by MD Maurice
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Reflections and ruminations from a modern day Alice - Life is Wonderland
Welcome to the place were I chronicle my own falls down dark holes and adventures chasing white rabbits! Come on In, Take a Bite, You Never Know What You May Find...
"Curiouser and curiouser." Alice in Wonderland
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 22nd
Write about a missed connection.
I'm sure there are plenty of missed connections in my life but I'm drawing an absolute blank this morning. I keep thinking of it in a literal sense. I keep thinking about someone running through an airport terminal to catch a flight for the final leg of a trip only to find the gate empty and the look of defeat as they watch their plane departing for takeoff. Literally, that kind of missed connection...
That's not what I think the prompt is looking for though. I think the prompt is challenging me to remember a time when I missed connecting with someone, missed an opportunity for an important exchange of some kind. That is what I am struggling with because nothing really comes to mind, even though I think it probably should. And yet I have...nothing. Nada. Zilch.
What else is in my brain this morning that I can share in electronic ink so I don't feel like a total cop-out on this prompt...
I decorated early for Christmas this year. My husband's sister was visiting from overseas and she would be leaving before Thanksgiving, when I typically decorate the house. He thought it would be nice to do it early so she could see it, so we did it all...the tree, the lights, the nativity. Our neighbors likely thought we were nuts and I resisted to urge to go door to door to explain ourselves. My sister-in-law loved it though and as a plus, I don't have to struggle through it with a belly full a turkey and a wine-buzz now. The only drawn back...the Elf on the Shelf is back. The all-too-early appearance is giving me heartburn. I don't know if this is the year she's decided to admit she knows its all a sham or if I am expected again to move that damn red-suited creep all around the house from the 1st to Christmas Eve. I loathe the Elf on the Shelf. I am not one of those super creative moms who have a plethora of clever ideas for the Elf to engage in to the delight of a waking child. As a result, our Elf is predictable and possibly borderline lazy. Our Elf, who I think my daughter named Elsa, in an underachiever.
Last year my daughter came home and regaled us with all the funny things her friend's Elves did while they were sleeping. Her friends woke to find the Elf had baked brownies, played Monopoly with army men, built a zip line across the living room...Who are these parents? I can't tell you how many times I've been sound asleep only to wake up in a bolt of panic because that damn elf is exactly where my daughter left her. There is very limited creativity in my Mom's brain at 2am so inevitably my daughter "finds" Elsa doing something less than remarkable the next morning like sitting stoically in a poinsettia plant or hanging out of an empty Christmas stocking.
Anyway, I have a few more days until Elsa "wakes up" and begins her invasion. For now she sits in her box, waiting...
Maybe I am missing a chance to engage with my daughter's imagination? Maybe I am missing the opportunity to participate in the last remaining vestiges of her childhood wonderment? Maybe. See what I did there? I found a way to bring it home baby...go me.
|30 Day Blogging Challange
PROMPT November 21st
What do you value most in a job/career? What about a job makes it satisfying and fulfilling? If you currently hold your “dream job,” what makes it perfect for you? If you are still seeking your dream job, how will you know when you’ve found it? If you are retired, think back to how you felt when you were working.
Ugh. This is a tough prompt. This is subject matter I try to steer clear from lately as my "career" is a sore subject. Once upon a time I believed I was working toward something, building part of a legacy. Recent events have revealed things, cracks in the ivory tower so to speak, that have led me to question my decisions and my path forward no longer seems as certain.
What I value most in a job or career is the easiest for me to talk about. I want to be challenged in a career that is dynamic and not a tedious slog toward retirement. I want the ability to hone my skills and use them to better the company, really know that I am contributing to the success of the organization. I want to have the opportunity to advance, in pay and in statute based on my successes and job performance.
I didn't think I was still looking for my dream job. Now I am not sure.
I have too many years until I can retire to even think about such things now. I imagine I will be the kind of person who never truly retires though...I've been working since I was legally old enough too. I don't think you can just turn it off. I can't see myself saying, "welp that's it. Guess I'll move to Key West now and eat key lime pies on sticks and sit on the beach until I get really old." Nope. Now, moving to Key West and running a little bed and breakfast in my golden years, that I might be able to make work....
30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 20th
Do you remember your first friend? Under what circumstances did you become friends? Are you still in contact with them or any of your other childhood friends?
It was the first day of kindergarten. We were the only two girls at the bus stop at the end of our rural town road. We eyed each other with interest, each of us too shy to say anything on the twenty-two minute bus ride to Fair Oaks Elementary. It wasn't until we found ourselves making the same puzzle, and ultimately fighting over putting in the last piece, before we actually interacted. The argument erupted, drawing the teacher and sending up both to our corners to "cool off". We glared at each other until the glaring gave way to giggles. Someone in the aftermath of a fight, in the space of ten minutes, we had each found our forever friend.
From kindergarten through 6th grade, S and I were in separable. We lived less than a mile from each other and took full advantage of that proximity. Our lives were filled with sleepovers, and hours lost to the worlds we created in the woods or her basement or in blanket forts in the living room. We fell in love with Duran Duran together and perfected all our best roller skating moves in tandem. I remember this wonderful time of having my own bestie and building all the memories of our childhood side-by-side. I also remember the other things, the times she'd seem afraid or break into heart-wrenching sobs or beg me to stay longer with her or to stay another night at my house. I never knew how to help her, only how to be there for her. Always. We were children, we did not know how to talk of such things back then. It would not be until later that I would learn of her life, of the abuse she suffered from her father and how my home and being with me had been a sanctuary for her in so many ways.
My family moved away after the 6th grade. I remember it didn't feel like an ending for me, she still came over and stayed. She was still a feature at my birthday parties. Life was moving faster though, and by the time high school rolled around, we had other friends and fell out of touch. I learned later that this was when her life at home began changing as well. Her mother left her father and she and S had begun a new life. I went off to college and the chasm widened. We had our memories though, each of us, and we held onto them, treasured who we had been for each other.
By the time I bumped into S in a Blockbuster store, we were both in our early twenties. She tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around, immediately transported back through decades by the same sweet face I had so loved.
We hugged and cried, and the years fell away.
I can't say we picked up where we left off, because we had each been through so many transformations since we met all those years ago. But some people are linked to you by your soul, and S is my soul sister. She has been through unimaginable hardship and has come out on the other side. Over the decades since, I have learned the truth about all she endured and though my heart aches and breaks for her sometimes, I am so proud of the woman, the wife, the mother she is. She has built a life of love and light from darkness and pain. S is the strongest person I have ever known.
S is also the most selfless. She is the first to celebrate my successes and the first to call or text when she knows I am struggling. She is always on my side, unquestionably, and ready to back me up. She finds all the ways to remind me that I am stronger than I think and she is always there if I need her. In turn, I am always ready to listen when she needs me, and when she needs to be reminded about how far she has come and how proud of all her achievements and victories she should be. I am incredibly blessed my soul connected with hers all those years ago.
When I moved two years ago, it was the the next town over from hers. She was the first friend to visit and she rushed through the door, excited to tell me that "she had timed it" and we lived "exactly six minutes" apart. It was the closest we've lived to each other since our days growing up on that country road. We were silly and ecstatic, sending selfies to her Mom from my new kitchen.
We try, despite the demands of our busy lives, to get together once or twice a month to catch up. She has to squeeze time in between the demands of chauffeuring around teenagers and I have to juggle weeknight piano and horse riding lessons. We manage it because it is important to us. Sitting for an hour, sharing dessert and coffee, catching up on our lives is often the very best part of both our week's. Time connecting with your oldest, dearest friend is like a balm on all the rough places in your soul. I am incredibly blessed to have her in my life.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 19th
What characteristics do you admire in a leader? Is there or was there a time in your life when you took on a leadership role? Research different leadership styles and describe which style you would most like to follow. Which style are you? When you are in a leadership position, do you exemplify the qualities you admire in a good leader?
I would love to say I researched leadership styles to fully address this prompt but I'm still wondering how I'm going to fit everything I had to get done into today so my time is too limited I'm afraid. I have twelve minutes before my meeting from hell with the man-babies start so I'm going to do my best with what is already in my head (the quality of what is already in my head is understandably debatable I realize lol)We could use a real leader today...hence the man-babies
The qualities I admire in a leader are thoughtfulness, intelligence, fairness and the willingness to do whatever it takes. I do not admire leaders who deliver directives and then sit back and supervise. I think a leader should empower others first and foremost. They should be appreciative and open to ideas, they should be ambitious and engaged. I have had leaders who were deplorably bad. I have watched them disparage and discourage their employees. I had one boss who was borderline abusive. Luckily, these experiences were few and far between.
I am a type A personality and so, I tend to gravitate toward the opportunity to lead projects or group assignments. I really try to be the kind of leader I respect, one who listens to their team and gives weight to their suggestions. I think good leader recognizes the different skill sets available in any situation and tries to find the way to best utilize those resources to help their team achieve the goal. Sometimes I have to check my natural bossy-ness, sometimes I have to pull back and let someone else take the reins when they have a better angle. That is difficult for me but it is something I work on to be effective in my job. I know when I get it right because we are the most productive. I think knowing how to motivate people, how to engage them and make them feel investing in something is very important.
I hope I am the kind of leader my Dad was when he first started out. I remember watching him with his employees and knowing how much they all respected him. They would have followed him into whatever venture he chose for the company because they trusted him and had faith in his abilities.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 18th
What is something that most people misunderstand or wrongly assume about you?
I honestly don't know. These days its hard for me to tell if what I perceive in other's is a general lack of interest in me or lack of concern in my well-being because they wrongly assume I'm fine.
I have this one friend, we have been friends forever and she is the most kind-hearted, selfless person I know. I'm blessed to have her in my life. I can not count the times I have received a text in the morning just checking in on me or wishing me a good day, or words of encouragement. This small gesture has made all the difference some days. She knows what has been going on in my life and she has been a real source of comfort to me.
Her care and concern magnifies the indifference that others show me though. I don't think I've had any conversation lately with my sister than hasn't revolved around her and her life. My siblings never ask me how I am, I don't think they even consider it. I used to be close with my sister but in the last year, she seems not to see me at all. I thought us having Roo was going to deepen our relationship, that would bring my daughter and I closer into her world but in truth, it has been only to lead me to feeling more isolated and apart. I don't feel welcome very often and though I try to help out and be supportive, I feel her resentment and disappointment like a incoming tide sometimes. At a time when I could really use someone to talk to, my texts and phone calls rarely get answered. She has no real idea of how I've been feeling, how much I am struggling with my life at this time.
My mother and I are estranged and my relationship with my father is very complicated for me at the moment. My brother has never been a support system for me. Phone calls and visits with him revolve around getting our kids together and not any real sibling comradery. I don't think he's ever given thought to what I may or may not have going on personally. He just doesn't work that way.
This past year my youngest brother and I had a falling out. No, that's being generous. He snapped on me and sent a blistering series of private and public messages to me. He is an addict, and I have come to expect the up and down with him over the last few years. He has frequently said things or behaved in ways that lead to our temporary estrangement. This was different. He broke my heart and what is worse, he made me afraid. I have worked very hard in my life to overcome the imprint of fear left on me by another man...something he has first hand knowledge of. The fact that he brought me to a place of that kind of fear again by his own violent threats...is unforgivable. I cut all ties to him. It has been a devastating loss I have largely born in private. I felt mortally wounded by it all, and months and months later, I still feel the rage and grief of it all. If I had to pinpoint a time when I first felt my spirit weakening, it was when he told me I was a "piece of shit" and he hoped someone would "burn my house down on me". I had no words for how it felt to read those words, no way to equate them with the little boy I loved as if he was my own. I cut him out of life and as a result, I think I lost something of myself...something I will never be able to get back or replace.
In my family, I have always been a bit of a fixer. I've taken up the slack for others who are less engaged. I'm never one to ignore the phone or the needs of others in my family. I regularly get drawn into dramas to support or back someone else. However, I have come to understand that I am rarely the person they think about. I am not the person they call just to "check in on". Maybe they assume I don't need anything, maybe they think I've always been okay? Maybe they don't see a world outside their own? I don't know. It is making me dread the holidays all the more because my heart is 100% not in it. I live closer to my two remaining siblings then I have since we all lived under the same roof. I think I believed it would make us closer. I thought, given the parents we share, that it would make us closer. It hasn't. It is seemed only to magnify that the opposite is true.
Maybe they just assume I am okay with it all but they would be wrong.
|30 Days Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 17th
There are 45 days remaining in the year. What do you want to do or accomplish before 2019 is over?
I would like to get through even one solid week without falling into the slumps. I would like to get firmly ahead of my depression, at least far enough to see clearly through a holiday season and happy new year. I'd like to stick to my diet, and get all my blog entries written for the challenge. I'd like to avoid having any more arguments with my husband. This prompt is making me realize, even though my decorations are already in place, I'm not mentally prepared for what comes with the season and the fast-approaching end of the year. At a time when I am typically starting to feel festive and joyful, I'm weighted down by anxiety and prone to random days where I wake feeling extremely sad and overwhelmed. I am dreading the next 45 days because I don't feel equipped to handle all the typical family drama and the hustle and bustle of our typical holidays. That's really all I got today. I am particularly out of sorts this morning I think.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 16th
If you had to spend one million dollars in one day, what would you spend it on?
A million dollars for one day sounds like a movie plot. I think I would pay off our home and all our outstanding debts. I'd put enough into a savings account for the my daughter's college. You never know what life has planned for you so paying things off and preparing as much as possible while you can afford to do it, seems like the smarter way to spend any sudden windfall. I'd make an investment in something for myself, something I could build into a business of my own one day. Self-reliance feels like something I could really get behind at this time in my life.
If there was anything left, I would finally take myself on a European Viking River Cruise, the 15 day one...the creme de la creme of them all.
Then, I would look for my own modest horse property where I could bring Roo home too.
I'm sure there are countless things I could think of to do with a million dollar payday. I could fix the roof of my sister's barn for her or help my uncle with my grandmother's old and aging home. I could sit and think about it for another hour but my coffee cup is empty and I still need to catch up on one more prompt from the weekend as well as settle up with today's prompt too.
|30 Day Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 15th
In your entry today, write about focus. Use the following questions to guide you. At what time of day are you the most focused? When you need to focus on a task, how do you prevent distractions? How do you manipulate your environment to keep yourself focused? How else do you practice focus in your life? Any tools or techniques you can share?
Normally, on the mornings not following a night of insomniac insanity, I have a razor sharp focus. I am, by nature, a morning person. I am up early fussing about, making my daughter's lunch, taking out the dogs and preparing for the battle I must forge each morning to get her out of bed. My daughter is not a morning person. I typically get to work about an hour before anyone else. That is the best time for me to focus on the prompts or polish off pieces I'm looking to submit. The office is quiet and there won't be anyone hanging about my door for a few hours yet.
If I have to work on something that requires my focus during the workday, that can be challenging as I am prone to get frequent interruptions. Also, my secretary is a bit of chatty patty who likes to narrate her tasks outside as she works through them. I find I can focus significantly better with my music playing. The only drawback is that when I get in the zone, I will sometimes catch myself singing along out loud. A bit embarrassing when your CFO catches you singing along to Hole or the soundtrack to Wicked when you are supposed to be finalizing closing statements for him to review.
As far as other techniques...I'm not sure I have any. Mostly I just blast the tunes and go...
|30 Days Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 14th
Think back to a moment in your life when you were faced with making a difficult choice. (Which city to move to, which college to attend, what to ask Santa for, etc) How might your life be different if you had made a different choice than the one you did?
Feeling especially mentally taxed today. I feel like the field of difficult choices I've had to make is pretty vast actually. I'd had to make so many of those in my life it seems. If I had to rank the hard choices as most life altering...one in particular rises to the top of the heap.
Over ten years ago, I was in a relationship with someone. He was my best friend and the person I had envisioned building a future with. He was a live-out-loud, kind-hearted, giant of guy and I was madly in love with him. He was the kind of guy everyone loved; jovial and fun, generous and goofy. It had also became painfully clear fairly early on that he was an alcoholic. He had become adept at managing it though, holding down a successful career for over ten years and living a relatively stable life.
Nevertheless, three years into our relationship, his illness had begun to become less and less manageable. His control over his disease began to slip. He was in and out of programs and bounced from one period of shaky sobriety to another with an alarming irregularity. With each failed attempt, I saw more and more of my dreams die away. With every broken promise, I felt more and more of my spirit breaking along with them. He had wonderfully supportive family who worked tirelessly to get him into the best programs. None of us could bear the thought of this amazing, fun-loving, generous soul being lost to his demons. There was so much waiting for him on the other side of true and lasting sobriety. He wanted that life so badly, but none of us could have imagined how powerful his disease was or that he was fighting a losing battle.
To make a long and tragic story short, he was suddenly hospitalized after what we all believed was a solid year of continuous sobriety. Apparently, he had been drinking all along and his liver was failing. Three weeks in a medically induced coma, and one, Hail-Mary-8-hour-life-saving surgery later, he was released back to us. The teams of doctors who had worked to save his life rejoiced with their successes. I remember the head pulmonary doctor clapped him on the back and told him to, "go make your life, marry this girl and make beautiful babies." He also had given him an dire warning. He told him if he never took another drink, his liver would repair itself completely and he could live a full and normal life....but if he drank again, even once, he would be dead within a year.
It deeply saddens me that the doctor's warning had not been an exaggeration. Less than six months into recovery, he relapsed. My heart had at last given out, all my last hopes had been dashed. The last five years had been such a trying, heartbreaking ordeal and it had taken such a terrible toll on my spirit and my faith. I was in a very dark place and one night I realized it had simply had come to the point when it was going to be him or me. If I did not move on, he was surely to take me down with him.
So, the hardest choice I ever had to make was to leave someone that I still loved deeply. The hardest choice I had to make, was to choose me. I broke off the relationship. I pulled away and focused on my life. His siblings kept in contact. We had grown close over the years and they knew I how much I cared and wanted to be kept updated. They checked in with me but also encouraged me not to look back, not to hold out hope. I think they must have known by then that the miracle he needed to turn things around was somehow just beyond his reach.
After some time, I started to date. It was miserable and painful but it was also necessary. Slowly I began to fill my life with normal pursuits and routines. As love sometimes does, it came back into my life when I wasn't looking. I met a man who seemed to be able to heal all the raw places in my soul. He was patient with my wounded heart, and with the drunken messages left on my machine that we would sometimes come back to after a night out.
By this time, my ex was in full and rapid decline. Word soon came that he was in the hospital again, and this time he would not be leaving. He was dying and his tormented body was giving in to his disease finally and horrifically.
So much about my life with him shaped me in such permanent ways, good and bad...but none more so then that visit with him before he died. I remember every moment of our last moments together with heartbreaking clarity. There is too much to unpack there and this blog is already far, far too long. Suffice to say, amends were made and best wishes bestowed. He released me from the burden of my grief and guilt. He told me, "Life your life young Cricket, the one you are supposed to have, and I will look down on you and be so happy for you."
I was able to say goodbye to my dearest friend and walk into the light of my new life with his blessing and it meant the world to me. He died less than two weeks later and the world was somehow forever dimmed by his passing.
I have no way of knowing what my life would have been like had I not left him when I did, but I know I would not have met my husband. I would never have known the joy and challenges of marriage and of building a life with a committed partner. I would never had known the amazing wonder of my daughter and the sweet and awesome honor it is to be her mother. So, sometimes it is the hardest, most painful choices that put us on the road to our best decisions, to our best life.
Incidentally, sometimes hitting "save" on an entry is a hard decision, especially when I' feel as if I've left so much on display in electronic ink. I've pushed myself to be candid and accepting of whatever comes out when I write so I don't have a choice, but I'd by lying if I didn't admit some blog entries leave me feeling more vulnerable and exposed then others and it gives me pause to put them out there sometimes. But I respect that level of openness and honesty in my fellow bloggers and appreciate that all of us here regularly take such risks for the sake of being authentic and real.
|30 Days Blogging Challenge
PROMPT November 13th
In what circumstances do you believe it is okay to fib or tell a white lie?
As much as I would not make a habit of it, sometimes telling a fib or white is necessary to preserve harmony in life. Like the morning my almost 10 year old woke up with her first pimple, prominently protruding in the center of her forehead. I calmly assured her that, "no you do not look like a unicorn," and "it's not that noticeable", tried my best to dab on some concealer and blend over her aggressive blemish. She went to school a little less anxious and it was worth my minor deceptions.
I tend to lend toward "white lies of omission" more than anything else. For example, I conveniently sometimes forget how much the new blanket for horse costs or that I committed to supporting my sister in one venture or another. It is largely an avoidance technique for warding off another circular argument? Yes. Is it likely the reason I've managed to stay married for over 12 years? Also, yes.
The truth is, when I met my husband I was open and brutally honest about my past, my quirks and my limitations, and there was A LOT to unpack there. Over the years, we've managed to build a life around some pretty ticket items that might be obstacles for many couples. Our truths for each other are what have managed to keep us together through tougher times. A little fib here or there to keep the peace, isn't going to have much effect on our marital scoreboard. Sometimes it is better to tell him that the haircut he did himself for free, does absolutely look as good as the one he typically pays $30.00 for at the barber. Sometimes its easier to get through the workday if he tells me, "that my ass doesn't look at all fat in my pants."
Such is life....