Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I tend toward the Melancholy

In my life the most vivid memories I have are of the deeply sad moments of my life.  I think this could be reassuring to my mom, since my memories are pretty sparse from my childhood - but maybe that's because I was a full-time content kid.  But give me something to be sad about, and it's burned in.

Today is the 8th anniversary of my father's death.  His last 24 hours feel like they were yesterday in my memory.  While the sadness has faded to a dull ache now and again, those hours in the hospital will never fade.

One year ago this month we said goodbye to my cousin Brian. A life cut short when cancer ravaged his body two years after receiving a kidney transplant.

And this weekend we must send off a favorite aunt who has lived a full life, but who lost her husband too young and then had to struggle to battle Parkinson's for the last 15 years.

Tomorrow night?  They are predicting up to 7 inches of snow in our area.  Seriously?  Is this an April Fool's joke?

Add to this the extreme work pressures right now - with my manager out on medical leave, the MERGER manager out on medical leave, two staff people coping with ailing spouses, and a recent resignation that shorted us some much needed help, and we're really struggling to hold on to the wheel. 

I know I tend to the melancholy, to the glass half empty, but I'm trying not to be melodramatic. I'm trying to STAY POSITIVE as is my continuing mantra for the year.  But wow.   This month is about ready to be torn out of my calendars for all the years that come.

I guess the positive in this moment is "That which does not kill you makes you stronger".

Saturday, March 19, 2011

For the Teachers in My Life

The other day I received a gift.  It was not valuable, it was not glitzy, it was not expected. But it was wanted.  It was needed.  It was treasured.

I received a letter from my grammar school music teacher.  Here it is 30 years since I sat in her classroom and a card comes in the mail.  I think the most special thing about this letter and the woman who sent it is I was not a musical genius.  I was not head of the class.  I was not even the opposite - an attention grabbing clown or bad kid.  I was just your average little kid.  Sitting in the middle of the room.  Barely able to carry a tune.  Quiet.  Shy.  Unnoticed.

But not with Miss Dee.  Because she noticed everyone.  Every. Last. One.

And because of that, we loved her.  We ADORED her.

Back in those days, teachers demanded and received a lot more respect from the kids in their class.  If kids were acting up, I remember, they used to switch the lights on and off once or twice and we all shut up and took our seats.  Miss Dee had her own unique tool.  She would play two chords in rapid succession.  Just two.  And I can still hear that resonating sound and the little butts hitting the seats immediately afterwards.

She would make each one of us sing our scales.  She would walk the room and have us stand on a chair and she would press on our diaphragm to get real sound to come out of our shy little mouths.  She taught us songs ranging from "This Land is My Land" to "Bless the Beasts and the Children" to "Don't Sleep in the Subway Darlin" and on and on.  Each year she would rehearse us and rehearse us and take what little talent we had on stage for the annual concert.  The 6th graders got special treats...getting small group numbers and dance moves...and somehow she made even the most reluctant of us tremble with joy and anticipation at the thought of getting up on that stage.

It's still a great regret of mine that I came down with some illness the day before our 6th grade concert, spiking a fever, and missed my one chance to dance with a hat and cane.

When I got the letter and opened it, inside I found extra treats.  Two more letters she had written in previous months or even years all going to a former address.  When they were returned to her, she kept them, and kept searching and waiting until she could find the right place for these letters to go.  And finally she did.  And out spilled her words and her spiky cursive handwriting I remember from all of my report cards.  And I could smell the old school.  And I could hear her two chords.  And I started humming "Bless the beasts" in the shower the next day.  And I thought, what a gift.  What an incredible gift - to touch children as she did and have it linger for 30+ years.

I come from a family of teachers.  My mother is a teacher.  Both my sisters are teachers. Mother-in law, cousins, friends.  It is a profession I wish I had the aptitude for...but it takes a very special individual to do that job and do it well.

So for all the teachers in my life.   Ms Goodwin, who read to our class the book "Where the Red Fern Grows" and reinforced that books can move your soul.  Ms. Erskine, who scared the crap out of me and taught me chewing gum was vulgar (although I still do it, just not in polite society situations).  Mr. Lown who convinced me that quiet and shy was ok, and then awarded me the citizenship medal - one of the biggest surprises of my life.  Mr. Emerson who taught me that science could actually be cool and I was smart enough to grasp chemistry.  Mr. Nightengale who made me yearbook editor and taught me skills I use every day in my current career...mostly about deadlines and laughter going together.  Mr. Baskin who taught me not only how to read more critically, but how to write like a grown-up, and keep my eyes open like a child.  And so many other teachers, whose names may have faded from my memory, but whose lessons never will.

Ms. Dee - for everything. Thank you. And this is for you.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wenderina Life Lesson

If you are going to have to walk a mile from your office to an appointment, it is a wise thing to be sure that when you dress in the morning, you inspect the elasticity of the waistband of your underpants. Otherwise, you will be like me and arrive with the uncomfortable knowledge that your underwear is truly UNDER... under the cheeks of your buttocks, instead of covering them modestly as intended.

Sigh.  My search for grace continues.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This is NOT the day

So after my note about how busy I am, I get one of THOSE know the hearts and flowers, stop and smell the roses, yada yada it is:


From: XXX

Sent: Friday, March 11, 2011 12:49 PM

To: Everyone and their brother?
Subject: Fw: Today is the day


Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back.. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible..

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word 'refrigeration' mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched 'Jeopardy' on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, 'How about going to lunch in a half hour?' She would gas up and stammer, 'I can't.. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain, and my personal favorite: 'It's Monday.' She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because People cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Tommy toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to us gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of 'I'm going to,' 'I plan on,' and 'Someday, when things are settled down a bit.'

When anyone calls my 'seize the moment' friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-Decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now...go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to...not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Make sure you read this to the end; you will understand why I sent this to you.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask 'How are you?' Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, 'We'll do it tomorrow.' And in your haste, not see her sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say 'Hi'?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.... Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

Show your friends how much you care. Send this to everyone you consider a FRIEND including me if you consider me a friend. If it comes back to you, then you'll know you have a circle of friends.

To those I have sent this to... I cherish our friendship and appreciate all you do.

'Life may not be the party we hoped for... But while we are here we might as well dance!'

May God be with you and keep you safe.

How do you feel when we get these?  Do you get reflective and think about how you can live a better life than the one you are leading?  Do you get sad and think about everything you have missed in life already?  Or are you like me and you get royally pissed off.

Here was my reply:
From: Wenderina
Subject:  This is NOT the day

You are so full of Shit. Do you follow any of your own email advice? Stop laying on the guilt trip. I’m a workaholic and I get paid quite well for it and at the end of my life I’m gonna look back and go….WHATEVER…made my choices and now I’m doomed to sitting here in a diaper like everyone who made different choices.

So take my email, add a few pretty pictures of sunsets and lakes and snowmen and send THAT out to everyone you know and see what comes back at you.


Luckily I made her laugh.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So Freakin' Busy

The blog just ain't what it used to be.  I am so barely hanging on at work right now with a crushing workload and my boss/senior colleague going out for A MONTH!  That I can't imagine finding the time and energy to be creative here.  I could, of course, turn this into a bitch and complain site, but I'm trying to be positive this year...remember? 

Lots of stuff to talk about that's also problematic due to confidentiality stuff at MERGER....

I'll pop up here and there...but just so's you know...I'm not dead or anything.  Unless this pile of paperwork tips over and buries me alive. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

No One Will Die.

Now here's a lesson in perspective for you.

Grappling with a typical MERGER detail on our new brand identity (or should I say our three new brand identities) I consulted with one of my new colleagues in Europe.  I proposed a plan of attack and then asked, "What do you think - is it heresy? or a good market penetration plan?"

His response, "No one will die."

Man, I love that guy.