Chasing Contentment

Tuesday, October 31

Rock the Vote
I have this thing about voting. I think everyone should.

There is so little in this country that I think we - as the citizens - have much control over, and voting is one of the few ways I believe that we realistically have a voice. And it drives me crazy when people don't vote.

Mike and I are still new to this area, so we're still figuring out the lay of the land, as it were, politically. Sunday, both of the papers we regularly receive ran extra sections about the upcoming elections and each of the candidates. As we read through them, we discussed who we each were planning to vote for in November.

When I was young, I remember my mom and dad sitting down before an election, and my dad telling Mom who she should vote for on election day. I never remember going with either of them to a polling place.

I don't really care at all if Mike and I vote for the same candidate (we're registered with different parties). What is important to me is that we each vote... that we encourage those around us to vote. And we always take the kids with us to vote. I want them to see that we value that particular freedom and that they should, too.

With Mike teaching journalism, we're pretty much assured of being caught up on the news of the day. And from what I can tell, it seems that too many people have confused justice with vengance, with retribution.

The kind of justice I think we all need is the kind that is fair, that treats each individual the way I would want to be treated. The Amish community could certainly responded to what happened in their school with the world's brand of justice. No one would have second-guessed that choice. But they didn't. They stood by their brand of justice which includes forgiveness.

I appreciate that their actions have reminded our world that God's brand of justice is matched with God's grace. I'm quite sure that I am counting on God's brand of justice, not man's, when my day of judgement arrives.

And so, as election day nears, I'm thinking a lot about the kind of justice I want to support and which candidates do the same. In the end, the moment we walk into the voting booth is the moment in which each of us has the ability to guide our country in these difficult times.

I don't care which brand of justice you choose. But decide for yourself what you feel and believe, and voice those opinions in the booth.

Go vote.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, October 31, 2006  ]

Saturday, October 28

We've spent the day painting the kids' rooms, and they turned out really cute. Eliza got the pink room she wanted. I took Aleece's suggestion and used a shower puff to do the darker pink. Then, I mixed that color with a little of Griff's red to get an even darker pink for Eliza to stamp a few flowers onto the wall. With her pink canopy, I think the whole room looks really groovy.

Griff had specific ideas about his room. He drew out the design on a sheet of paper and colored it just so. I traced a Monster Disc to get the circles on the wall, and I painted the outlines, but Griff painted the rest. He seems very pleased with how things worked out.
We tease that if something ever happened to Mike, I'd never let the kids do anything even remotely, possibly dangerous. But if anything ever happened to me, he'd never let them do anything crazy like paint green flames on their walls.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, October 28, 2006  ]

Friday, October 27

Today, I was talking with a gentleman on the phone and had a long conversation with him as I helped him with his situation. When we finished, he asked for the name of my supervisor and how to contact her (rarely a good sign), and then he told me that he wanted to let her know how helpful I had been. What a delightful surprise! I honestly don't care if he never calls her. For him to have told me gave me a boost on this Friday afternoon.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, October 27, 2006  ]

Wednesday, October 25

More tales from Central Florida...

...I'm settling in at work. It's not ideal, but it pays the mortgage. I do owe a great big public apology to my friend, Aleece, who has for years said she wished she worked in a creative field (Aleece is an amazing artist who toils in a less-than-creative position). I've told Aleece that I wished that for her, too, but that it didn't really matter to me. Turns out, I was wrong. I miss the writing part of my former job like crazy.

The other day at work, I offered to write a term paper for a co-worker who is taking classes at a nearby college. And I would pass out from delight if someone would offer me a freelance writing gig.

...Mike has historically taken his time grading tests and assignments (I can hear Mandy and Josh laughing now... taken his time?! that's an understatement!), but now that he's got 45 kids in one class, he's having to get better. So Sunday evening, he stayed up until 1 a.m. grading so he could give the tests back in his 8 a.m. Monday class. But he left half the tests at home Monday morning on accident.

...Griff's adjusting to his new school. He told me last week that it was an easy school. I should have known he was bright enough to figure that out. After having been pushed all the time at the academic magnet he attended before, this is really easy.

We just found out today that the local school board voted to rezone our area, and Griff will be attending a new school next year. Lovely. My hope is that because it's a brand new school, it'll be well staffed and coordinated. I figure that's the best I can hope at this point. That, and that some of the kids Griff knows now will be switching schools with him.

...Eliza's learned to say, 'chill out, baby,' which cracks me up every time. She's also begun insisting on taking a doll or a baby or a bear or a big, stuffed, green & blue worm with us everywhere. She also insists on having it buckled in next to her in the van. She won't let Griff sit next to her in the van. Poor kid, he has to move to the back so her doll/baby/bear/worm can sit next to her.

...I've taken these white walls for as long as I can stand it. It's just too institutional for me. I miss the deeply colored walls we left. And so, this weekend, we're painting.

I let each of the kids select a color for their rooms. Since we've already got furniture in there, and moving it all seems like a pain in the tush, they each get an accent wall. Eliza picked pink. Griff had to be difficult. Griff chose light green, turquoise, and blood red. For one wall! But I'm going to do it, sucker that I am.

Of course, today I told Mike that I can't see painting (I know, after all of this choosing) because I can't even keep the house neat as it is. Mike hesitated before saying anything, and I said, "I know it's not a really straight line between point A and point B." He said, "It never is with you."

So some things are different (the weather here is fabulous instead of rainy) and yet some things stay the same.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, October 25, 2006  ]

Friday, October 20

What obsolete skill are you?

You are 'Gregg shorthand'. Originally designed to enable people to write faster, it is also very useful for writing things which one does not want other people to read, inasmuch as almost no one knows shorthand any more.You know how important it is to do things efficiently and on time. You also value your privacy, and (unlike some people) you do not pretend to be friends with just everyone; that would be ridiculous. When you do make friends, you take them seriously, and faithfully keep what they confide in you to yourself. Unfortunately, the work which you do (which is very important, of course) sometimes keeps you away from social activities, and you are often lonely. Your problem is that Gregg shorthand has been obsolete for a long time.

Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

[  posted by Chel on Friday, October 20, 2006  ]

Thursday, October 19

So, as it turns out, I have some self-esteem issues. That won't come as any big surprise to anyone who knows me well, but I've been confronted with the fact a lot as I've begun this new job.

I've been doing this particular portion of the job training for eight days now, and on two of those days I've won the award for having the best stats the day before. I guess two out of eight days in a group of 12 isn't so bad. And yet, because I don't want to appear better than anyone else, I worry that my stats are good because I'm doing something wrong.

This morning, one of my trainers came over to tell me that one of the files I handled yesterday had an error in it, and I was just so discouraged. Now, logically, I can see that having my first error handed to me on my eighth day isn't so bad.

Basically, I'm figuring out, it's all in my attitude. People are going to yell at me on the phone (I got more than my share of it today), and I'm going to make mistakes (one of my trainers keeps telling me that's why they call this 'training'), and I'm going to have to keep my cool and keep learning.

It's just that I was so accustomed to doing my job before, and I was so good at it (though I didn't realize it at the time despite everyone telling me that - and I do apologize to those who told me & I didn't listen) that this new learning curve is really difficult to take. I was used to knowing what to do and how to do it. The biggest questions I ever had were AP Style issues, and I always just called Mandy and asked her.

This, this is a whole different thing.

And yet, there are moments when I talk with someone on the phone and laugh with them and am able to help them, and it feels really rewarding. And there are moments when I figure out some odd question, and it feels really invigorating.

Now, if I could just get to the point where there were more of those moments than of the ones of me standing in tears in the back stall of the ladies' room on my floor I'd be doing great.

I've had such lovely backhanded compliments in recent weeks about my previous job performance, and it's been a really great thing. The compliments come in spurts, usually just about the time I need one the most, like today. I'm trying to remember that my former job didn't come easily at first either, and that if I stick with this one for 14 years, I'll probably be pretty good at it, too.

Until I get to that point, though, I've decided to act the way I'd like people to see me. I'm going to quit apologizing for needing to ask for help, and I'm going to quit feeling bad when I make a mistake. I'm just going to take it for what it's worth and move on. I'm going to act as if I believe myself that I can do this job. And one day, I'll believe it.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, October 19, 2006  ]

Tuesday, October 17

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year. I know it's crazy that one of my favorite days is in the very middle of October, but it's true.

Tomorrow is FFANY and QVC's annual Shoes on Sale event. FFANY donates shoes to QVC which sells them half price to me (and I'm sure hundreds of thousands of others). And then all of the proceeds are given to breast cancer research endeavors.

Think of it... shoes for a cause. Yum. Everyone should participate... you know, unless you're a size 8 & like the same shoes I do.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, October 17, 2006  ]

Monday, October 16

Oct. 16
Mandy, Mandy,
Well, I'm late again. Have you noticed how this move has thrown me all topsy-turvy? I can't even get simple calendar things done on time. It's like I'm... Mike. Ok, let's not dwell on that, huh?

You are SO close now! Like I said, you're at 30 weeks & you're only two weeks away from when I had Eliza. We want you to go 10 full more weeks, but still. You're closing in on holding that sweet little girl in your arms.

I know you're tired now. You're going to get more and more tired as Olivia gets bigger and bigger. Be prepared for that, and - I know this will be difficult for you - don't push yourself. Try to remember that for these next 10 weeks, you're only responsible for yourself (Josh can take care of himself). After that, your life will be completely different. Listen to your body now and rest when you can.

If you haven't already, call Dr. D and get him on board as Olivia's pediatrician. He's fabulous. If you need his phone number, call Linda. You can list her, too, as a contact on his form since all of her kids use him. And tell him we miss him.

Go ahead and pick up a pack of diapers every couple of weeks when you go to the store. Not a bad plan to go ahead and build up a stockpile of those and wipes. You're going to use far more than you think. And I've got coupons I'll send you.

You'll get lots of great stuff at those November showers, and you'd better have someone take lots of pictures. I can't believe I'm not there for this! Trust me, though, my gifts are fabulous!

I'll say a prayer before bed tonight that your family's houses dry out quickly and that everyone's safe and sound and that Aunt Sissy makes it home soon.

love you (and Josh and Olivia),

[  posted by Chel on Monday, October 16, 2006  ]

Saturday, October 14

Griff and I played hookey from school and work yesterday and instead spent Thursday night and yesterday at the Nick Hotel celebrating Hayden and Hannah's birthdays.

We rode water slides and saw a great, fun Nick show - in which Chuck got selected to play a grown-up baby! - and just generally had a good time. These days, with the worries of new jobs and still-shaky finances, a good time is a really wonderful thing. Next time, we'll have to take Eliza along. She'll love all of the Dora stuff.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, October 14, 2006  ]

Wednesday, October 11

One of the coaches helping us today at work sat at my station to answer a question for me, and while I was on hold, he and I were chatting. He is this cute young man with funky hair and a funny personality. I told him he was cute as a button, and he blushed. I asked how old he was, and when he told me, I told him I could be his mother, to which he kindly laughed.

I asked if he was married, and he smile and told me he was engaged. And then he told me how he and his fiance had been dating for five years and that they were waiting until she got her college degree to get married. And then he told me that the two of them had been raised similarly and that they had met in church. And he just shared with me, and it was sweet. It was nice to meet another Christian in my big corporate world. And it was encouraging that maybe if we teach our kids what we believe, they will, indeed, take that with them.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, October 11, 2006  ]

Saturday, October 7

Happy Birthday, dearest Eliza.

How quickly these three years have passed. I am awestruck when I see you sometimes... the very fact that you are alive and well and that I am alive and well to see you... it is humbling.

I got an email yesterday from my friend, Linda, wishing you a happy birthday and me a happy surviving day. I know that when you get older, you'll hear the story of how your birthday came to coincide with your grandfather's instead of with Josh's seven weeks later. I'm sure you'll know that in the midst of our struggles, I knew that Mandy and Josh were taking care of Griffin, that he was cared for in the most perfect way possible.

You'll know that each year on your birthday, I send a chocolate yummy to the doctor who saved our lives (it seems fitting that this year Mandy delivered the thank you gift for the first time... the first time we're in this new home... the first time Mandy's trusting this doctor to care for her little girl).

On your first birthday, we were relieved that you were progressing well. On your second birthday, we were delighted with your spirit and independence. Today, you are amazing.

You drive me crazy, push me to my limits, challenge me to be more patient, more creative, more aware of my world. You remind me of the great things about me and your dad and your brother. I see in you aspects of me that are both great and annoying. I promise to strive to encourage the great aspects and to try to tone down those annoying aspects.

Today, we celebrate you, little lady. But we also celebrate me. Because today is the anniversary of the day I didn't die. And I am grateful to God in ways that are too numerous to count for the opportunity to still be here for you, for your dad and brother, for those dear friends without whom I wouldn't be who I am today.

Happy Birthday.

[  posted by Chel on Saturday, October 07, 2006  ]

Thursday, October 5

My new job is going okay, I suppose. I've done nothing but training in the five weeks I've been employed with them, so it's hard to tell whether I'm going to enjoy the actual job or not. But I passed my second big test today, and I'll begin doing some aspects of the actual job tomorrow. The area I'll be in is a call center environment, and my entire class agreed this afternoon that I'll be the one to get the really crazy, difficult call in the morning as the first call. I'm not at all sure what that says about me.

I've been proud of myself (which most of my friends would say isn't something I say about myself often) this week as we've progressed with the training. I've been very patient with an older classmate who has been struggling, and it was actually enjoyable to help her through some of the computer system training. And I've been proud of myself for doing as well as I have. For someone who says that it's good to have a healthy pride in oneself, I've not always practiced that.

In some ways, this move has allowed me to be more me. I haven't much had anything to lose, nothing at stake, and so I've just been me... nothing more, nothing less. And people can either like it or not. In the past, I've worried about what people thought of me. Turns out, now I don't so much care. The people who love me are the ones whose opinion matters to me, and I seem to be doing okay with them.

And it's been nice to be exactly who I am without worrying about anyone's perceptions of me or with what anyone expected me to be. It's been odd, though, in some ways, because I've been changing, too, letting go of some of the things that have always been pretty inherent in my ways. I've quit using my big planner and have taken to sporadically using a small, spiral college kid planner. I've quit being in charge of our family finances and have begun assuming Mike's handling it. I've quit ... I hate to even suggest it ... worrying so much.

Mike's different, too. He's respected by his new colleagues, and he's able to be the strong professor that he maybe wasn't always able to be at his former school because of people's familiarity with him personally. My antisocial husband now goes to lunch with people a couple of times a week. He's the parent both of my kids' teachers know well. He's reading non-school materials. He made snacks for Eliza's birthday at daycare tomorrow.

I suppose it's no wonder that I feel very grounded in me and very unsettled in my life right now. There are, blessedly, a few certainties. I am sure, without any doubt, that this move was inspired by God. I am sure that this little foursome of ours will withstand this move and come out stronger. I am sure that those friends who were close to me before the move are still close to me now.

I am sure that this unsettled season will gradually pass into a greater state of contentment until, one day, I'll realize that we all really are at home here.

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, October 05, 2006  ]