Sanctuary

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Sanctuary – A place of refuge or safety

 

 

Those of you who have read the blog for a while might remember that I moved offices several months ago.  I was a little apprehensive about the move.  I had really liked  my office.  I was happily settled there, but the move would make it easier for me to supervise staff and would save me many trips down the hall each day.  To complicate matters, I would be locating to an office I had formerly occupied.  I had worked in that old office during some of the worst days of my life, but I couldn’t really say, “Oh, I don’t want to move to that office.  It holds too many memories from a very difficult time in my personal life.”  Yeah, I didn’t think that would go over too well.  While they might think I’m a little quirky at work, they don’t actually think I am insane.  (I think!)

The office suite had been completely remodeled with new paint and new carpet.  It was now a tranquil color, instead of the former industrial blue.  It had always been a very bright and  sunny space.  I followed the advice of Seasweetie and placed a bowl of fresh lemon on my desk.  I don’t remember why, but I believe it was to improve the feng shui in the new space.  Below is a picture I took on move-in day.  There are the lemons in the little orange bowl I bought to add a little more color to the space.  The lemons are gone now, after growing a lovely crop of fuzzy mold.  I still have the bowl, though, and it’s usually filled with Hershey’s Miniatures.  🙂

 

 

The office has turned out to be a wonderful, calm, peaceful, place of comfort.  I have accomplished some of my best work in that space, and it has been interesting to come back to the same space under different circumstances.  There are four of us who share the suite of offices.  It doesn’t allow the same amount of privacy as my former office, but I find that I enjoy the company.  While I could close my door if I chose, I rarely do.  The only time the door is shut is if I am on a conference call or working on something that needs complete concentration.  (What I mean is that I have to shut it to force myself to concentrate and not allow the ADD to kick in and make my mind wander.)

One man and three women share the four offices and common reception area.  In the six months since we became office mates, we have formed sort of an alliance.  We chat back and forth through our doors.  We pooled our funds and set up a pretty nifty coffee station in the reception area complete with top shelf coffee and a variety of creamers.  We’ve brought in plants and hung pictures.  Never once has an unkind been word been spoken among the four of us.  This pleasant companionship has come to mean a great deal to me.

It’s been interesting to watch as our friendships have transitioned from the friendship of co-workers to real friendship.  What has even been more interesting is the fact that other people in our building have begun to notice.  Our office suite has become known as a sanctuary.  People often comment on it and stop in to sit in the reception area and relax for a few minutes.  The politics, alliances, manipulation, and undermining that go on in other areas, just don’t exist in our little suite.  Instead, we have created a pleasant, welcoming, and productive place to work.

This week  someone gave me a gift card for Chick-fil-A.  (YUM!)  Today the gentleman in our little group asked if anyone wanted to go with him to shop during lunch.  He needed help choosing a Christmas gift for his wife.  We all said that shopping sounded like fun, and I offered to buy everyone lunch with my gift card.  So the four of us took off for the mall during our lunch hour.  As we sat eating lunch, I realized what a curious group we made.  One man in his 30’s, a young woman in her late 20’s, and two older (ahem, one of them would be me!) women sharing lunch at the mall.  It was so enjoyable, and I realized how blessed I am not only to have a job that I love, but to be able to work with people I truly like.

Life can be difficult, painful, crazy, and confusing sometimes.  Right now, my life seems to be a mixture of all of those things.  Today,  I was thankful for these good people who are a part of my life.  Their kindness and friendship are blessings.  Months ago, I worried about sharing office space, making a move, having another change in my life, but it turned out to be such a good thing for me.  The space we share has become my sanctuary from all the craziness in my life.  In that place, and with these people, I am able to find moments of peace.

I wasn’t able to spend time shopping with them.  I had an enjoyable lunch, though, and then I headed over to the hospital to check on my mom.  The situation is not good, and there isn’t a thing anyone can do (or will do) to make it better.  No, her leg wasn’t broken, but she has a torn meniscus.  Ordinarily, this could be repaired, but Mom isn’t healthy enough for surgery.  She is in a great deal of pain, but is only allowed a limited selection and amount of pain relieving drugs.  As a dialysis patient, medications can quickly become toxic.  The doctors are concerned that she will die if they were to perform surgery.  They are concerned that she will die if they give her enough medication to actually help with her pain.  What are they preserving?  Her quality of life is negligible at this point.  No matter what my personal feelings have been, past hurts and personality conflicts mean very little at this point.  It’s frustrating and painful to watch her go from one medical crisis to the next.  She has told me she wishes that she could just die.  What do I say to that?  I would be feeling exactly the same way if I were in her position.

I look back on the last two years, and I marvel at the sadness, the losses, and the changes.  But it is moments like today with my co-workers, that also show me that even during the worst of times, good things continue to come my way, too.  I have to be sure to keep my heart open.  I need to let the good in to help carry me through the bad.

Lashing Out

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Working in downtown revitalization is never boring.  It’s challenging, frustrating,and exhilarating.  It is my passion.  It’s in my blood.  I don’t know why.  This is an “accidental” career.  It wasn’t in my plans.  It’s not what I ever thought I would be doing with my life, but it is my blessing.  I have driven down the street and felt my chest fill up and my eyes begin to tear as I look at the changes that have occurred in the course of the short four years that I have been working in this area.  I feel like a proud parent with each success.  On the other hand, if a business fails or struggles, if there is a negative news article or a complaint about anything, I take it personally.  Working in downtown revitalization often feels like being in love with an aloof, elusive lover.  As much as I love my downtown, the bricks and mortar don’t give back.  They stand firm and unmoving, always needing a little more love.  No wonder there’s a very high rate of burnout and job turnover in my line of work.

Working with dozens of unique small business owners is always challenging.  Listening to their individual needs, wants, and concerns, and then attempting to get them to all work together is often a monumental task.  This past weekend, we held a major downtown event.  It was our third year for this event, and each year we have grown and added new activities and promotions.  What started out with two businesses coincidentally holding pre-holiday open houses has grown to dozens of business participating in a joint promotion.  This event is our shining-star success story.  It has become the largest downtown tax revenue generating weekend of the year.  Yes, even larger than Black Friday.

The best thing about this event is the cooperation between the bars and restaurants and the retail establishments.  We capture the retail trade early in the evening and then send them on their way to the food establishments.  From the first year, we incorporated jazz music as a way to draw people through the doors of retail establishments.  I called on friends in the local music community to help me out that first year, and now we have musicians clamoring for the available spots.  The coolest thing is that you’ll find live music in unlikely locations.  This year we organized over a dozen jazz combos to play in our retail locations.

Last week was incredibly busy as we prepared for the Friday night event.  It was definitely a juggling act to organize all of the last-minute details.  By 5:00 p.m. on Friday, things were in motion.  As I walked from place to place taking pictures, I felt such pride and a sense of accomplishment.  The stores were packed.  People were smiling.  People were BUYING.  The business owners told me that they had been busy all day.  This year, the two-hour evening open houses had grown to an all day celebration.

When I finally met up with staff and volunteers for a cocktail, I was satisfied that we’d had another successful year.  To make things even better, I received a text from a friend who lives in my town.  “We’re down here and this is great!  Where are you?”  I told her to come on over and join us.  We all had a great time sampling martinis and had a fantastic dinner.  Another year was under my belt, and the event had been a success.

Yesterday, like most mornings,  I woke up, stretched, and reached for my phone.  First I checked my emails.  Nothing good.   I checked Facebook.  Nothing unusual.  Then I checked my work emails.  My office phone sends my voice mail to my email account when I am out of the office.  This may be another reason for me to hate technology.  There were several voice mail files in my inbox.  I listened to them.  They were mostly questions about the Saturday open houses, and I returned each call.  (Do people think I LIVE in my office?)  The last message I listened to had been sent at 12:37 a.m.  I was curious about what that would be about.  Who would leave a message at that time of day?

My heart sank as I listened.  The person didn’t leave her name, but started in by telling me that I needed to “Get my act together.”  She complained that the newspaper had said that the event began at 5:30, but she had been in an establishment that had begun serving hors d’oeuvres and wine at 4:00.  Which was it? Couldn’t I even get my times straight?  I needed to get my act together!  She went on to tell me that the whole event was a letdown.  Her town, a neighboring community, would have done a much better job.  “Get your act together!”  I was still laying in bed.  I woke up thinking the event had been a success, and all it took was this one nasty woman’s phone call, and I felt like a failure.

Who does things like that?  What is wrong with people?  Who feels the need to lash out like that anonymously, to someone who has worked hard and actually cares about what they are doing, at someone who they don’t even know?  That phone call ate at me all day.  That phone call ruined my weekend.

The woman may not have left her name, but the file that came through to my inbox identified her phone number.  I looked it up, so now I have her name.  🙂  Thankfully, it is not someone I know.  There doesn’t appear to be a personal agenda.  She is simply a really horrible, bitchy person.  Yes, I know that I should let the matter go, but I can’t.  Her words stung, and I am tired of stinging.  I’m tired of mean people, and I’m tired of being treated as if I don’t have feelings by mean people.  It has happened all too often this past year.

Once again…I am tired of mean people.  I’m tired of people getting away with abominable behavior when they think no one is looking, when they think no one will find out, or call them on it.  Yet again, I find the need to hold up a mirror for someone to see the reflection of their own bad behavior.  I am tired of being a doormat.

On Monday, this lovely lady is going to be getting a call from me.  If she has a complaint, I will be happy to calmly listen to what she has to say.  This time, she isn’t going to get away with the safety of anonymously calling my office in the middle of the night.  I will call her by name, and I will tell her my name in return.  I will put a human face on the other end of that phone and that complaint.

I am taking off the KICK ME sign.

Vampires, Heroes, and Victims

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Today was a long day, and I am surprised to find myself writing a blog post.  I didn’t get home from work until after 9:30.  It was a draining day, and on top of that, I haven’t been feeling well.  All I wanted to do was sit down and relax for a while before going to bed, but the words were brewing and bubbling up inside of me, so here I am,  writing again.

As I sat here quietly trying to unwind, my head was replaying moments from my busy day.  It was a strange day that seemed to take place like scenes from a play.  Scene I:  a morning phone call.  Scene II:  a quiet, contemplative drive to work.  Scene III:  a meeting with mega-rich hoteliers.  On and on, my day went from one scene to the next.  The only player that was constant was me.  I walked out on the stage never knowing what I was going to get.   Everyone else seemed to know their lines, but not me.  Maybe I was feeling a bit scattered because I didn’t feel well.  I felt like I was a step behind.  I felt uncertain and unsure.

As I sat here tonight replaying the scenes, I thought about the interactions I had today with such a wide variety of people.  My work day ended by giving a presentation to a large group of business owners and residents at a public meeting.  Each scene of my day had a different tone, and I thought about that as I sat on the couch trying to relax.  Moments can go well, or they can be fraught with difficulty.  It can go either way.  So much is dependent on the people involved.  Kindness seems to be the key element.  The addition or the lack of kindness can tip a situation in one direction or the other. Continue Reading »

Energized!

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Ah, what a good day.  How can anyone be depressed with this beautiful Indian Summer weather?  My drive to work was breathtaking.  The fields look like watercolor paintings, all warm and golden.  The earth seems to ripple and shimmer with the bounty of the harvest.  Tractors are out early, and I love watching the grain spewing into the waiting wagon while the air fills with a fog made of silage.

This morning, I enjoyed my music as I was driving along.  Each month this year, I have created a new playlist on my iPod.  This month, I couldn’t decide what type of music I wanted to save in my list.  I’m tired of the depressing lists of previous months.  I couldn’t decide if I wanted rock, or jazz, or country, or bluegrass, or maybe even opera, so I decided to scrap the whole list thing this month.  October is SHUFFLE MONTH, and I have really been enjoying it.  I got rid of every David Gray song on my iPod, and any other “triggers of sadness.”  I have enjoyed the random selections so much.  It has felt like being reacquainted with long-lost friends.

A song by Phish came on this morning while I was driving, “Gin and Juice.”  I smiled and started singing along.  My smile grew even wider when I realized that I was singing this silly song, but I was thinking of something else entirely.  I was thinking about the funding sources for some of our Neighborhood Stabilization Programs.  Ah…for a few moments I was back to being me again, and that felt so good and right.

This afternoon, I got to put on a hard hat and tour a couple of projects that I have been involved with for almost four years.  One of them is a wonderful new, infill project, and the other is a renovation of a brownstone built in 1847.  I loved the dust and the excitement of the work site.  I loved seeing these buildings progress from plans on a piece of paper to actual bricks and mortar.  I loved hearing that the completion dates are only months away now.  I am so excited to see these building filled with people, homes, and businesses.  I love looking across the skyline and seeing these changes and knowing the positive impact they will have on our community.

Today I remembered again, at least briefly, who I am and what this is all about.  I needed today.  I needed the beautiful fields, the silly music, and I needed to put on a hard hat.

A Word of Kindness

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Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the

blind can see.  ~ Mark Twain

I haven’t had much time for blog writing lately, and I’ve missed that.  I’ve been doing a lot of writing, though.  Last week was spent writing pages and pages of a grant narrative.  I was often frustrated as I sat staring at the screen willing the words to flow.  It was so very different from writing in the blog.  When I write HERE, the words flow without much thought.  Often, I don’t know where a blog post is even heading until I’m finished writing.  Last week, though, I was a frustrated writer.  At one point, when someone stepped into my office, they asked me if I was having trouble seeing.  I didn’t understand what they were referring to until I realized that I had a pair of reading glasses on my head, one on my face, and yet another tucked into the front of my shirt.

Eventually, I did complete my writing assignment.  The mass of papers was mailed out, and now I am keeping my fingers crossed that we will be blessed by the powers that be with a grant to fund the project.  By the time my words made it to the Post Office, it felt very much like stuffing my child into a large envelope and hoping for the best.

The boys are doing well away from home.  The girls are busy with their lives, school, and friends.  T and I are finding our way around a much-too-large space that was once occupied by the bustle of four kids.  All around me I feel change and transition.  I’m waiting it out, yet feeling a sense of isolation, melancholy, and loneliness.  Even so, I know that the dust will eventually settle, a new routine will become established, the voids I am experiencing now will be someday soon be filled with new activities and interests.  Still….  I don’t like this in-between time of waiting for all of that to happen.

I have been making a point to acknowledge to myself all of the GOOD things in my life by taking a moment and a deep breath of appreciation when something good comes my way.  Can I call that “cultivating” the good?  I am trying to exorcise the bad experiences, bad memories, harmful thought processes, by redirecting myself toward the good as often as possible.

Today is a busy work day.  I am speaking at a luncheon this afternoon, which means I have to ON.   Bleh…  Don’t feel like being ON.  Tomorrow will be even busier with meetings and my obligation to take my mother to the doctor.  On top of all that, I will be packing to leave for a conference on Friday.  There will be no weekend for me.  I’ll be sitting in conference sessions a thousand miles away from home.  I already miss my daughters at the very thought of leaving them.

A ray of sunshine entered my grouchy morning, though.  I received an email out of the blue, and it was full of kindness.  God Bless this Good Person!  It was a simple act of reaching out and spreading goodwill for NO OTHER REASON THAN TO BE KIND.  How incredibly needed and refreshing that felt.  Someone thought of me.  They thought kindly of me.  They reached out to me.

I know we haven’t seen each other in a while, but I wanted to let you know you are doing a great job.  (Name of my employer)  is lucky to have someone like you.

Thanks for everything you do!

My gosh!  I had tears in my eyes.  This person had no way of knowing what those simple words meant to me.  I will remember that feeling, and I will pass it on.  That’s one reason I’m sharing it here on my blog.  Take a moment today, please, to make someone feel valued.  Take a moment to be kind.  Pass it on!

Create Kindness!

Ma’am, Step Out Of Your Car

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In our little town, we drive slowly.  You can’t go very far without having to stop at a stop sign.  The speed limit is only 30 mph.  This time of year, you have to watch for children outside at play.  But mostly, you have to make sure to wave.  Waving is very important in our town.  I never, ever leave my house without waving at least one time during the trip.  No matter if I am crossing to the next street, or driving ALL THE WAY across town (one mile)  I will end up waving at someone.

There is no such thing as road rage in my town.  There is no anonymity.  People know my car.   I know what cars or trucks other people drive.  Not only that, but I know many of their license plates.  Case in point:  Once I was driving from my parents’ home to my house, and a friend later called to apologize for not waving at me.  She wasn’t feeling well, and was rushing to get home to use the bathroom.  Yes, she told me that, and yes, she actually called to apologize for NOT WAVING.

I have written before about how it hurts me to see how the anonymity of cars turns people into uncaring bastards.  People can be mean or harassing to those around them, and as long as there isn’t a cop nearby to catch them, they can speed along their way without repercussions or accountability.

Today I received an email from a citizen calling me a communist and a socialist.  Not only that, but he said that I “help people get pets intoxicated.”  WTF???  Yes, my friends, I serve liquor to dogs and cats!!  But first, I oppress them with my communist dogma.  This was the result of a marketing piece I did promoting a local business that produces a bloody mary mix (no alcohol in the mix!)  A portion of all sales go to a pet rescue organization.  I was promoting the locally owned business, not intoxication of pets, although I will admit that the thought makes me laugh!

This crazy man was insulated in his “car” of email.  Just as road rage is easy to perpetrate, so is email criticism.  If he had a problem with me, would he have been able to say those things to my face?  Of course not.  Frankly, I am astonished at the number of hateful, critical emails I see floating around.  People have an easy, unseen, soapbox in popping off a critical email, and boy, do they love to get up on that safe soapbox.

Cars, phone calls, text messaging, and the internet has in many cases eliminated the need for face to face human contact.  Sure, sometimes this is great.  I love to blog, and here I am hidden behind my blog,  Pam’s Planet.  I love to talk on the phone. I am able to stay in touch with friends and family in far off places.  The internet and email have brought me great joy and great friends.  But there is a downside.  While these advances in convenience have made our lives more fun and productive, it’s also easier to waste time and to hide behind technology in our dealings with those around us.  We are insulated by technology.  Sure, we get things done faster.  Our lives are more organized, but I am beginning to see the downside of not being forced to interact with those around us in a transparent, accountable manner.  I miss eye contact and body language.  I miss the give and take of real conversation, even when those interactions aren’t always pleasant.  I miss holding a piece of paper in my hand and looking at the handwriting of someone special to me.   Oh, I how I once loved to get a real letter from my grandma!  I could see HER.  I could see where she had sat to write the letter at her cherry desk with the black dial phone.  I could see her head bent and the wrinkles on her hand.  That letter contained a little piece of Grandma.  It was written with care and love.

I am as guilty as the next person of hiding in my own little cyberworld.  I text, email, and I’m a Facebook junkie.  I am as guilty of the behavior I criticize as those I condemn.  It’s time for that to stop.  It’s time for me to step out of my car occasionally and actually speak to real people, shake a few hands, hug a few friends, and wave at the people I see passing by.

 

And So It Goes…

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I am really beginning to feel at home in the new office.  The bowl of lemons were a hit.  I enjoyed watching the reactions of people as they noticed the bright yellow lemons in the bright orange bowl.  Some people stared at them, but didn’t say a word.  Other people asked, “What’s with the lemons?” as soon as they walked in my door.  I would seriously recommend that everyone have a bowl of lemons in their life!  They smelled wonderful, like a citrusy burst of sunshine.  I could feel my spirits lift whenever my I glanced in their direction.  The color was beautifully refreshing amid the drab muted colors of an office.  Thank you, Seasweetie, for this bit of spiritual advice.

I like the color of the new office, too.  It isn’t a very pretty color, kind of a dark taupe, but it is a good color to sink into.  It feels calming.  I never liked color of the old office.  It was light blue, and I always felt bad vibes from that color.  Weird, huh, but whenever I really looked at that blue color, it felt hectic.  It was a busy color, better suited for a surgical suite or an IRS office.

The coolest thing of all is that my new office is in the portion of City Hall that was once the city jail.  The picture above isn’t from my office, but it was taken in the office on the floor above mine.  The upstairs still has a couple of the original jail cell doors in place.  I’ve done a little research about the history of the building, and my office space is in what was once the women’s’ holding cell.  I love that! I wonder what would land a woman in jail in the early 1900’s?

Other than adjusting to the new office, there wasn’t a lot of  good about my day.  My intern is truly about the stupidest girl I have ever encountered.  I could do a “Post a Day” on the things that girl says and does.  The crazy, angry man was at it again today, too.  He would also qualify for a “Post a Day.”  I had a good long talk with the Chief of Police this afternoon.  I feel a lot better after talking to him, although there isn’t much that can be done at this point.  The Chief did offer some great advice to pass along to the concerned business owners.

The gloomy skies and cold weather have been  mirroring my mood these past few days.  Unsettled weather is what you would call it, and it fits.  What I need is warming sunshine and soft breezes.  I have been working too hard, not feeling well, not sleeping well, thinking too much, and it is taking its toll on me this week.  I was so tired driving home tonight. It frightened me as I struggled to stay awake.   Most days, I enjoy the drive home, but today it felt lonely.  The sky was gray.  The songs on my iPod were depressing.

My phone rang when I was almost home.  It was Emily.  My spirits lifted the moment I heard her voice.  My Emily.  My sunshine.  She was all in a dither.  She had plans tonight with the new boyfriend.  She had just found out that the plans included swimming.  She was freaking out about him seeing her in a bikini.  (REALLY…how reassuring is that!?)  This is probably the first boy who has ever made her act like this.  I’m not sure how to explain it.  She glows, giggles, frets, and worries.  This boy is sweet and cute….AND he’s an older man.  He just turned 20.  While that made T and I cringe initially, they are following our rules.  Em met him while volunteering at the Red Cross.  He is an Eagle Scout.  His mother even stopped by and talked to T at work about the “situation.”  She wanted to make sure that her son had our blessing and to let us know that she was also going to monitor things, too.

I talked to Em until I pulled into the driveway.  One thing is for sure, no matter how tired I am while driving home, I wake right up when I walk in the door.  I have no choice.  Most days, someone is out the door of the house before I’m even out of the car.  Lola ran out.  Pepper the Wondercat was sitting in the windowsill meowing at me, and Em was waiting right inside the door.  She looked so beautiful, excited, and happy.  There was nothing special to have made her so beautiful at that moment, but I was in awe.  She wasn’t dressed up, and her hair was in a messy bun, but she was glowing with happiness, which made me feel happy for the first time all day.  I took a deep breath and walked into the kitchen.  LOUD.  My house is always loud.  Everyone was there.  What’s for dinner?  Who is staying here for dinner?  Who will be coming over for dinner?  I never know from one day to the next who, what, or how many.

Andrew was leaving to play a show at a coffee house.  Em was leaving on her date.  Luke’s girlfriend would be here any moment. Tonight there were five of us for dinner.  It’s  a different mix each day.  It keeps things interesting.  There is never any monotony in this house.  I long for a day or two of monotony.

After dinner, I crept upstairs to lie down for a while.  The house had settled down.  Luke and Shannon had taken Lola into the TV room to watch Indiana Jones.  The TV room connects to my bedroom by the back staircase, and I could hear them in the room below me.  As I listened to the three of them in the TV room, I thought about what wonderful parents Luke and Shannon will someday be.  They are two amazing young people.  Best friends, first and only loves, they have been inseparable for four years now.  Shannon will be joining Luke at Marquette in the fall.  They will be living in the same dorm.  I’ve been teasing them all summer about getting married since they’re attending the same school.  It would save us a bundle in tuition!  Of course, I don’t mean it.  I’m proud of the plans they have in place for their lives.  They have it all charted and planned out.  I hope it works for them, but I also know that life rarely goes according to our plans.

Exhausted as I was, I merely drifted in and out of sleep.  I was dreaming dreams that only added to my exhaustion.  I was unable to find the peace I was seeking.  I had wanted a quick, refreshing nap while everyone was occupied, but instead my solitude only magnified  my worries.  A text from Andrew.  He was on his way home, so I went back downstairs to wait for him.

Andrew came home in a good mood.  “Want to watch a little King of the Hill before bed, Mom?”  I poured a  Special Pepsi (Bacardi and Pepsi with a nice slice of lime) and made some popcorn.  Shannon went home, and Luke joined us.  Emily wandered in, too, happy from a wonderful evening.  My kids and King of the Hill, T sleeping in a chair, that is my life right now.  Once again, I settled in and allowed Hank and Peggy to relieve my stress and lift my spirits.

So much is unsettled.  So much is confusing.  So many things are on my mind.  And so it goes…

Ugliness

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My hearts is tender.  It is battered and bruised today.  Well, my heart has been battered and bruised for quite a while.  It’s a good heart.  It wants to be happy and filled with joy.  In fact, my poor little heart jumps at the chance to believe in happiness.  My heart leaps when it thinks good things are about to happen.  It wants to believe the best in other people.  It wants to trust.  It wants to believe in the innate kindness and goodness in the other hearts it encounters in this life.

No matter how much the rest of me experiences, my heart remains so very innocent and vulnerable.  My heart is in charge here.  My heart guides me and reacts to my experiences in life.  Sometimes that is wonderful.  As I said, my heart it sweet.  My heart is what enables me to see the wonder of the world.  My heart is what helps me see the beauty of nature.  Where my brain sees a dog, my heart sees a friend.  My brain sees a shedding cat, but my heart reminds me of the times that shedding furball roams around the house crying out “Ma!  Ma!” until he finds me.  My brain sees the filthy homeless man who wanders around near my office each day on his bike packed with his earthly belongings, but my heart wonders at his story.  My heart is what makes me go out of my way to say hello to him each day.  My heart is happy when my hello brings a smile to this mentally ill man’s face.  My heart does a good job of helping me see the wonderous, miraculous, good in the world  Even at this very moment, my brain is smelling brownies fresh from the oven, but my heart is making me love T for knowing that my day was rough and chocolate would help.

That’s one reason I love my job so much.  I can use my brain to make a difference, however small, in the world.  That makes my heart happy.  It’s frustrating though sometimes.  Sometimes making a difference means that the bad guy gets riled up.   The fight against injustice isn’t easy.  Think about it.  If injustice exists, then that means that someone, or many, are having a good old time getting away with unjust behavior.  Who wouldn’t be happy to be the guy on top?  Who wouldn’t be happy to be able to get away with whatever they wanted and have the folks around them turn a blind eye?  Yeah, that  kind of person who is going along just fine with their life of unethical behavior isn’t very happy when Pollyanna comes waltzing in and saying “Hey!  That’s not fair!  Yes, those rules DO apply to YOU.  No, you are NOT able to twist and turn those rules to suit yourself as you see fit.”  No, the bad guys don’t like that at all.  Bad guys don’t like truth and fairness..not if it mean that truth and fairness is also applied to them.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a letter that had been sent to City Hall full of criticism and complaints about me.  Oh, how that hurt my heart!  Why would someone take the time to do something so rude and cruel?  It wasn’t the words that hurt so much as it was the image in my mind of someone actually taking the time, taking time out of their life and their day, to try to hurt me ON PURPOSE.  That particular incident has escalated.  The more I thought about that letter, the greater my concern grew.  The letter contained out and out lies.  If I didn’t have the respect and support of my co-workers, if that letter had been taken seriously, it could have seriously damaged my career.  Losing my career would have an impact on me AND my family.  Why would anyone want to hurt my family?  It scared me to think of the ripple effect that such a letter could have caused in my life.

What if this guy continued to cause problems for me?  Could this crazy person cause so much trouble that I was no longer an asset?  Would I become a liability?  What if he was relentless?  What if it was easier to get rid of me than to deal with this nutcase?  OK….yeah.  I was becoming obsessed, which is really nothing new.  🙂  I spoke to my boss about my concerns.  Once again, I can’t say enough good about this man who is my boss.  We were friends before I ever took this position, and I can’t imagine anyone I would rather work with.  There is such a bond of trust between us.  Someday I will write an entire blog entry about our history together.  He is my friend, and I can’t imagine a time or a thing that could ever change that.  He and I have shared significant, life-changing years of our lives together.  When I met him, he was a man married twenty-plus years with a small child.  Now…he is a gay man in a committed relationship.  His strength in dealing with and facing major honesty and changes in his life continue to inspired and impress me.

He listened to me, and he understood my concerns.  We consulted with the legal department, which really accomplished nothing, but did calm my fears that I would be hung out to dry.  While my fears of personal career damage have been calmed, my fears of personal safety have increased.  I knew that this person had a history of run-ins and confrontations, but now that I know even more, it is unsettling.  There are three current restraining orders outstanding, countless cases of legal action and false accusations.  Last weekend, a fast food worker was attacked by this man.  Charges are pending.  The list goes on and on.  The more I learn, the more confused I am about WHY this person is able to skate so close to the edges of the law and still manage to walk free.

Today I had lunch with two victims of his harassment.  They had not known each other prior to their common problems.  The issues he has with them are unrelated.  They both carry mace.  They wanted my help.   What can be done to protect us from his “legal” abuse?  He has done nothing illegal yet, or nothing that can be proven.  Even as I write this, I am worried.  What if he reads this?  But why would he?  How could he?  I write, because this is MY blog, and I refuse to be afraid.  I will not alter my life due to this.  I don’t like bad guys.  I have plenty of reasons not to like bad guys.  I don’t like people who think they can live blamelessly as they hurt those around them.  I have reasons to dislike that, too.

Yes, I will get involved.  I will help.  Once again, I find myself among strong women.  Together, we are strong.  More than once, it was said, “It feels so good to know it’s not just me.  I feels so good to know that I am not alone in this.”  Bad guys don’t stand chance when strong women stand united.

Today I was reminded of so many other times when my heart has hurt over selfish, thoughtless, ugly meanness.  I remembered the first time I when I really knew that my heart was tender.  It was two days after my dad died.  Never before had I felt so alone in the world.  I had lost the greatest love I had ever known in my life.  I had lost my safety net.  I was raw with pain.  I was driving to work that morning.  My dad was not yet laid to rest.  The funeral was the next day, but I was driving in to my office for an hour or so.  It was bitterly cold.  Although the traffic here is never really bad, it was rush hour.  I was on the expressway at the busiest overpass.  Some cars were entering.  Some were trying to exit.  Cars jockeyed for position.  Ahead of me, a car signaled to change lanes in order to exit.  Instead of letting the car change lanes, the car in front of me purposely sped up and then slowed down simply to make sure that his fellow motorist would not be able to exit as he had intended.  As I watched it happening, I began to sob.  My heart was so hurt.  My recent losses were so fresh and painful.  My heart could take no more, and the pain overflowed.

I remember how that senseless cruelty hurt me on that day.  When I pulled into the parking lot that morning, I had laid my head against the steering wheel as the knowledge of man’s inhumanity to man washed over me.  Why?  Why do human beings have this horrible capacity of cruelty inside of them?  That day, I cried for the man who had not been able to take the exit.  Where had he been going?  What if he was going to visit a loved one in the hospital?  What if, like me, he was hurting from a great loss?  Why is it so much easier sometimes to hurt people than to be kind?  Shouldn’t the desire to allow the guy to change lanes outweigh the desire to fuck up his morning?  I don’t understand such behavior.  Thankfully, I don’t understand.  Hopefully, I never will.