Posted by: Jenny | February 4, 2015

The Kindness of Strangers (and friends. Mostly, friends)

I lost my job two weeks ago. It’s one of those life events that rank right up there with death, divorce and public speaking as stressful events in a person’s life. I can vouch for that. I was told that with the reorganization of our municipality, my position no longer existed, so thank you for your years of dedication, blah blah blah.

In a word: Politics. Of course my position still exists; it’s just now at a lower pay grade, with “Deputy” added at the beginning of the title. The newly-elected official who will oversee that position probably has someone in mind for the job, so out with the old, in with the new.

However, I am fortunate that my job of nearly 14 years wasn’t my passion. It was a job, present for a very specific role in my life – to pay the bills. That’s it. It didn’t fulfill me. I didn’t dream of being the greatest clerk of the court that ever lived. I went to work, did my very best, and every two weeks, they gave me money. Even Steven.

So, I put it out there in the world, via Facebook, that I’m on the market again, hoping that someone on my friends list would have a lead. And there were leads – comically (and quite innocently), two people sent me the posting for the newly-revamped job description of the position that I had just lost. Others passed along jobs they’d heard about through the grapevine; some offered to give me a leg up by talking to contacts at these jobs and serving as a reference.

I was bombarded with messages of encouragement and commiseration. Three friends – former co-workers, not from this job but from a job 16 years ago – took me out for dinner and drinks that night. My adult sons checked in more frequently, giving me pep talks and assuring me of my awesomeness.

And then today, two weeks after my change of status, I went to my stylist for a hair cut.

I feel Shawna is criminally underpaid, considering the miracle she performs with my baby-fine hair every six weeks, but she insists that she is charging me her “friends” rate and that all is cool. I sat in her chair and she asked what’s new, so I told her the big news. She said the normal and typical things people say when they hear you got canned, and then we moved on to other topics. As she was drying my hair, she asked, “What can I do for you? What can I do to make this easier for you?”

Then she answered her own question: the hair cut was free. I deserve to look my best at a time like this, she reasoned, and she’s certain I’d do the same for her.

Now, I’m not a long-time client. I stumbled upon her in September, when on the hunt for a new stylist. We clicked at my first visit, and not only does my hair look the best it’s ever looked, I’ve found a new friend.

She had me thinking the rest of the day about how small things can mean something big when you’re in a time of weakness and transition. How hearing from old friends who are just checking in can lift your spirits. That sons who echo words of affirmation they’ve heard from you can make you feel more successful than any task or project ever made you feel at work.

And how sometimes, passion and purpose collide, and a simple gesture can trigger the desire to do what you do best and what you love. My stylist enhanced my appearance and enriched my soul as well.

So I’m back to my blog. I’ve realized that being let go was not a stressful event, but a gift. I’ve been set free to follow my passion.

Posted by: Jenny | September 22, 2013

The Visitor

Today is my favorite day of the year. Actually, it’s tied with a day we saw in March.

It’s the first day of autumn, which I anticipate with as much joy as the first day of spring. And when either of those days happen to coincide with picture-perfect weather worthy of that day, even better.

The windows are thrown open and air conditioner off. Sunny skies and mild temperatures invigorate me this weekend, boosting my energy enough to be way more active than usual.

I love change, and when we observe a fresh, new season, I’m giddy with anticipation. Well, that’s really not accurate – I don’t feel this when winter sets in. Summer…well, yes, I love June 21, but not like Sept. 22 or March 21.

December 21, I loathe. Probably because, by this point, in this part of the world, winter has already reared her ugly, unyielding head. And while the seasons are allotted equal days on calendars, summer and winter seem to hog more of their fair share.

And so, when the first day of fall actually looks, feels and smells like it should, it seems we’ve been given a gift, along with a reprieve from the 90s and the high humidity and the unbreathable air that we’ve had since early June. It’s a transition, and in this case, a very gentle transition, between the extremes of weather.

In a fair and just world, this weather would last until December 20, making the most of cool and comfortable temperatures and sunny skies. In a fair and just world, winter would rarely dip below 32 degrees, and would come and go gracefully and quietly, without brutal ice storms and wind chills below zero.

Spring would come just as expected, not when a rodent in Pennsylvania determines it will, and it would consist of gentle breezes and gentle spring showers and plenty of sunshine. And summer would keep its ridiculous scorching hot temperatures and suffocating humidity to a bare minimum, hauling them out once or twice, maybe, and certainly not for month after unbearable month. 

The four seasons often seem like two seasons, with some transitional weather thrown in here and there. Maybe that’s why I love spring and fall so much – because they so rarely take full reign when it’s their turn. They are special, unexpected, brilliant and beloved. They’re like that friend from college you see far too infrequently, but when you do, you tear up the town.

Here in Indiana, we don’t often experience spring and autumn on their inaugural day. They seem to come whirling in a month late, stick around for a day or two, then sit back and allow the previous season to make an unwelcome comeback for another week or three. When you think about it, they are the lazy seasons. Perhaps like that old friend from college.

But I do love them. Dearly. And feel such wonder and happiness when they finally come to visit.

Posted by: Jenny | September 8, 2013

Dreams & Change

Last night found me sobbing in the halls of Fishers High School….or was it Hamilton Southeastern High School….wait, maybe it was Terre Haute North High School. Well, it was one of the high schools that my kids attended, and I was crying because my youngest is a senior in high school.

It was just a dream, another instance of my brain hard at work while I sleep. Today, I’m left with an uneasy feeling in my gut. I’m really not that sad that it’s our last year with a child living at home. Really, I’m not. I’m looking forward to the light at the end of the tunnel, the elusive “empty nest” that my friends crow about.

Or am I?

For years, my “empty nest” date was going to be 2008, when my third son graduated high school. Then, in 2006, that date extended by 6 years when I married my husband and took over the full-time mom role to 11-year-old Sophie. Ok, 2014, here we come!

This part actually happened: Last night, my husband, daughter, her boyfriend and two friends went to their high school football game. It was a special game, played at the Colts stadium, against a county rival. We sat in a luxurious suite, courtesy of a local college who gave away tickets to high school seniors in a recruiting effort to lure them to their school.

It was grand, watching the boys battle it out on the field that the Indianapolis Colts would play on the next day in their season opener. Sophie and friends chattered away throughout the game; my husband impressed me with his spooky (and accurate) predictions of plays; and we somehow successfully avoided the hard sell from the campus admissions reps.

All in all, a wonderful time, even if the game did go into three overtimes (but, we won). Maybe it was the combination of hot dog and ginormous chocolate chip cookie that caused my dreams to short-circuit last night; or maybe it was the fact that I was out way past dark, but my brain, in an effort to help me make sense of my life, turned the event into something else.

I dreamed that we were walking through the halls of….well, wherever…..and I panicked. I realized that my life of being a daily mom were coming to an end, and I started crying. Actually, I was sobbing, near hysteria, and didn’t care who saw it.

Yesterday, I awoke with a new “memory” of my buddy, Mark, who’s been gone 6 years, after a remarkably vivid dream. It made me cry, feeling grateful for the new memory and devastated again by the loss of my friend.

Today, I awoke feeling that I experienced the death of a time in my life when I was the most important person in the whole wide world to four precious children.  I am grateful for the memory we created last night at the football game – a real, true memory. But again, loss is elbowing its way into the gratitude, reminding me that things will never be the same.

Think I’ll take a sleeping pill tonight.

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