Pinch Myself!

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I can remember the moment almost ten years ago when I told T, “Someday I’m going to work for The N…”  At the time, it seemed like a pipe dream or a joke.  Living in the Midwest, how did I ever think I would work for a national organization based in Washington, D.C.?  Of course, I was only kidding when I said that years ago.  I had just gotten home from my first big conference.  T and I were talking in the kitchen of the old house.  I was sitting on the counter in the corner where the edges met, and T was leaning up against the island listening while I talked.  I was full of enthusiasm as I told him all about it.  I felt like an entirely new world had opened up to me.  I wanted to learn more and more, meet people who knew more than me, and get more involved.  I had found my niche.  Fast forward ten years to yesterday.  I started a new job working for THE N…  No, I didn’t have to move to Washington, D. C.  There are field offices across the country, and I was in the right place at the right time (for a change!)

I took a week off between jobs.  During the entire time I was home relaxing between jobs, I held my breath.  I waited for them to call and tell me that there had been a terrible mistake.  “I’m sorry, but you weren’t really our first choice for this job.” or “I’m sorry, we just don’t want YOU.”

I took a picture of the building as I walked up to my new office.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  I’m here!  They’re actually going to let me do this job!  I stood on the drive as the humid, summer morning air wrapped around my legs.  I looked at the beautiful, old building before me, and I vowed to care for it and protect it.  I walked through the impeccably manicured gardens, and knew I would find time during my days to know these plants and help keep them free from weeds.  I entered, and I looked up the expanse of the spiral staircase to the galleries above, some full of art while others were full of potential.  I sat my bag down and positioned myself behind my desk.  This is where I belong.  I felt it immediately.  Like a mother knows her own child, I knew that I was meant to be in this place at this particular moment in time.

I hope I can live up to my own dreams.  So many times in the past, as quickly as a dream has come within reach, it was just as quickly snatched from my grasp.  Feeling happy or excited scares the hell out of me.  I don’t trust those feelings.  Is it because I don’t feel deserving of happiness?  I’m afraid I’ll mess up.  I’m afraid I don’t deserve anything good.

I hope so much this time is different.  I feel a kinship with this place, and I want to make us both proud.

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A May Day Memory

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The year was 2001, and my 12-year-old son had been in a coma for over a week. He had recently been airlifted to a university hospital for another surgery, his third in the past week. This was going to be a delicate surgery. His eye muscle was trapped in an orbital fracture. His nose was broken, too, and needed to be repaired. While these repairs would ordinarily be complicated, the complications were compounded by my son’s skull fracture and significant brain swelling. The surgery posed a risk of further brain damage. Without it, his eye would forever be “sunk” into the socket and cease to function. These were horrible choices for a parent to make.  I wouldn’t wish this kind of life-altering decision on my worst enemy. Continue Reading »

Optimism

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I’ve spent the past few years plodding along, but not really going anywhere.  Certainly, the past few years have been filled with loss and change.  Life changes our plans, and sometimes our plans change our lives.  Sometimes we can control the changes in our lives.  Other times, the changes take control and pull us along with or without our consent.  I have learned something important, though.  Most days are there for the taking.  Most days at least have the potential to be a GOOD DAY.   What happens, though? Well, I certainly can’t speak for anyone else, but I know what my problem has been.  Instead of treating each day as a gift full of potential, I have continued pedaling along on a course that goes nowhere.  Too often, I have looked back at days that are in the past, agonized over things beyond my control,  and wasted the potential of each fresh, new day.  It’s time to get off of the hamster wheel. Continue Reading »

Ugly Girl

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Last night I packed my suitcase once again.  I’m leaving this afternoon to attend another conference.  While I am looking forward to spending time with my friends, I don’t find myself very excited at the prospect of leaving the peace and safety of my home.  Home seems to be the only place where I don’t doubt myself.  It’s the only place where I feel like ME anymore.

As I looked through my clothes, I couldn’t find one thing that I really wanted to pack.  It’s not that I don’t have a closet full of nice clothes, the problem is that I don’t think I look good in any of them.  There is a formal awards dinner tomorrow night.  Instead of thinking about the award I SOOOO want to win, I found myself more concerned about what to wear for that event.  Everything I looked at, I decided against once I imagined it on me.  “No.  This will make me look frumpy.”  “No.  This will make me look like I am trying to be too young.”  “No.  My arms don’t look good in that.”  “No.  This makes my breasts look non-existent.” “I look fat in that.”   “I look ugly.  Period.”  The voices in my head were not being kind.

I once enjoyed these conferences.  I enjoyed the company.  I enjoyed new ideas and learning new things.  Now, all I can think about is not acting like there is something wrong with me.  I wonder if friends that I have not seen in months will take me aside (again) and ask me what’s wrong.  Will they wonder if I have been/am sick?  Will they talk behind my back at how dramatically Pam has changed?  I can put on the most lovely clothes in the world, but clothes can never cover up the things that I would like to hide.  My hair can be perfect.  My makeup can look great, but nothing can put the sparkle back in my eyes.  That’s why I feel ugly now.  The way I look hasn’t changed all that much, but what is on the inside of me has been altered dramatically.

When I am home, I can feel the me I once was beginning to emerge.  I feel safe at home, and I am able to take things at my own pace.  I don’t have to be “on.”  I feel supported by my family.  Healing can take place at home.  It is these times out on my own that shake me up and fill me with doubt and fear.  I am afraid to be alone with my thoughts.  I’m afraid to be without the distraction of my daughters.  I miss having my cat curled up on my lap.

Rebuilding my self-confidence is a monumental task.  It doesn’t take much to shatter the delicate beginnings.  Rebuilding who I once was is much more difficult than it was getting there the first time around.  I suppose part of that is because I blame myself for ever letting anything, anyone, or any situation undermine what was such an essential and important of myself.

As I’ve thought about what the next few days will bring,  I have decided to just accept feeling ugly.  What I look like does NOT matter.  What is important is who I am on the inside.  I will go, and I will learn.  I will catch up with old friends.  I will direct my care and concern outward instead of keeping my focus on ME.  I will stop caring so much about the ugly girl on the OUTSIDE, and concentrate more on on nurturing the beautiful woman on the INSIDE.