Chasing Contentment

Monday, May 21

I'm taking a blog vacation, which sounds better (and less permanent) than 'I'm quitting.'

But for right now, I have both too much and too little in my life, just in different measures and different areas. And the time that I spend blogging could be better spent either focusing on my family or looking for new job.

If you read my blog regularly and want to keep in touch, leave a comment and I'll get with you to swap email addresses.

And so, for however long, goodnight, my bloggy friends.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, May 21, 2007  ]

Friday, May 18

Today is a fabulous day!

My friend, Tara, is graduating from pharmacy school this weekend, and I am so very proud of her. She's one of the smartest women I know... talented and driven, dedicated and confident. She'll be an amazing assistance to countless people in her new profession, I'm sure.

And my friend, Aleece, is flying here for the weekend! I can hardly wait! I've been very blessed this year to have been able to go back to La. twice (once to meet Aleece's new daughter and once to meet Mandy's new daughter) and to have friends like Mandy, Josh, and Aleece come visit me.

One of the lovely things about old friends is that they know you and accept you just where you are. And if where I am at the moment is with a puffy black eye (an ugly visit to the dermatologist this morning) and angry at God, so be it. There are very few things in life as precious as being accepted for who you are in any given moment.

And for those keeping track, I've also been blessed to have two good friends email me about my angry at God post and affirm that it's okay to be angry with God while still believing in Him and His will.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, May 18, 2007  ]
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Monday, May 14

In a few short weeks, it will have been a year since I quit my last job. And in another month, we will have been here in Florida for a year. I've been at my current job since August... nine months.

For the year before we left our former employer, we were under the constant strain of not knowing if we would have jobs the next day... the next hour. And we were all under horrific strain from the changing institutional environment for at least a year prior to that.

Griff's eight, and Mike finished his doctorate last May, so we spent seven years with Mike gone from home a lot and working from home when he was with us physically. (I had sort of a single parent thing going for quite some time.)

We've had a long bought with difficult employment situations. But Mike's job is going great here... he's got a good group of people to work with... people who only know him as Dr. Mike and who respect him in a different professional manner than the people he worked with previously (though he'll never be loved quite the way those women mentored and loved him)... and he's teaching the things he loves to teach.

Me, not so much. I've struggled to learn this new job, and I'm proud of the progress I've made. I'm getting better every day. My numbers are getting better each month. And that's a really rewarding thing.

But recent changes at my place of employment mean that improvement isn't enough. I have to meet certain goals that simply aren't possible for me at this point in time. Maybe, with enough time and training, I could meet them, but I'm not being given that time or training. And so, once again, I'm working daily under the stress of knowing that I could lose my job within the next few weeks.

I was telling Mike that I'm angry about it all... I worked so hard for so long to get to a place where we were more peaceful and content. And now we've moved, and I'm only marginally in a better position. Now, as a family, we're better off because at least Mike's situation is better. But we left so much behind...

And I'm angry. Initially, I don't feel like I'm angry with God. I'm angry with the situation, with Fate. And yet, I don't believe in Fate. I believe in God. So maybe I'm angry with God.

I'm not so proud of it. But I don't understand why this is happening. Why I've wasted the last nine months of my life learning a job I'm going to get fired from before I even get really good at it. And I don't understand why I worked really hard, too, for Mike to get his doctorate (though, admittedly in vastly different and less important ways), and he gets a groovy job and I don't.

Currently, I'm working about 53 hours a week, and I'm not meeting the goals set forth for us. I don't know how I can physically work any more hours, and yet, I'll have to do that if I want to work toward saving my job. And while I'm working all of these hours to save a job I don't enjoy but need in order to pay the mortgage, life is marching by me. I'm missing valuable time with my family.

And so I'm angry. And I'm sad and discouraged (I told Griff the other day - in response to a question from him - that he could be anything he wanted to be when he grew up, and I felt guilty because I know that's a lie. You can't really be anything you want... you can be what presents itself to you and works for what you need at the time. But that's not a very encourging thing to tell an 8-year-old).

I know this isn't exactly positive blog posting, but I figure not many folks are reading anyway, and it feels good to say this out loud (so to speak) to someone other than Mike (who's listened really wonderfully but who also feels really guilty when I say these things).

So there. I'm angry and sad and discouraged. And now I've gotta go scan the classifieds.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, May 14, 2007  ]

Friday, May 11

These are for Abby, who kindly shared her pink hightops with Eliza. They're still a little too big for her feet, but we got her some sparkly pink shoestrings, and we just sinch them up really tight.

And yes, apparently, she's just got the one pose.

[  posted by Chel on Friday, May 11, 2007  ]

Wednesday, May 9

I'm an all-or-nothing girl. I admit it. When I decide I need to do something, I need to do it all the time, all the way or not at all. It's not the best way to do things, and it's something I'm trying to overcome.

This is Michele's Marvelous May. I have this theory that if there's something I want to be doing in my life, I should just do it rather than giving in to the reasons why not to do it. And while I know there's really no way to add or take away ALL of the things that would need to be done in my life in order to have the 'ideal' life. But I also know that there are some things I can be doing to make myself feel better.

In my head, I've got this huge list of things for Marvelous May. The one thing I've done (and I suppose if I'm only going to accomplish one thing, this is the one to do) is begin reading the Bible more consistently. I thought about starting in Psalms because it's got all of our emotions in it, but in turning to Psalms, I passed Job, and something told me to stop.

And I am loving it. How many people do we have in our lives who are like Job's friends? Those people who tell us how to do things 'right' or 'better' with so little compassion in their messages... in their tones. How many times do we want to scream out at God and ask 'why me? What did I do to deserve this?'

And how encouraging it is to see Job angry at his place in life, wanting answers from God and yet never waivering from his faith. It makes me feel better.

I hate my job (and new goals the management has put in place suggest I may not be asked to stick around much longer), and I miss my friends at home, and I am astounded that we have been here in this new life for almost a year and don't feel any more settled than this. I feel adrift, left alone. I want to know why I'm in this job, why I feel so unprepared and unsuccessful at it.

And yet, I feel a strong sense of peace... about being where God would have me, in this job (for whatever reason and for whatever time frame), in this place, in this moment.

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, May 09, 2007  ]

Monday, May 7

Tomorrow's National Teacher Appreciation Day. I've got gifts and cards set out for both kids' teachers. Everyone should be sure to thank a teacher tomorrow.

[  posted by Chel on Monday, May 07, 2007  ]

Sunday, May 6

The beach was so much fun. I do love the beach... there's something freeing about it. Work and homesickness and whatever else just fall away.

Of course, it wouldn't be 'us' if there wasn't something a little wonky going on. So, here are my funny beach stories, just for you, Mandy.

When we got there, we went down to the beach to walk around a bit, and at some point, someone said something about not remembering to bring something. I took that moment to ask Mike if he'd remembered to bring his, um... foundational garments. Not so much. Last year, when we went to the beach, his brother forgot to pack his underwear, so now it's gonna be a joke forever that one of them is gonna have to go to the outlet store and buy some 'slightly irregular' underwear. (And in an effort to maintain Mike's dignity, I won't describe the 'slightly irregular,' but suffice it to say that Griff and I both laughed so hard we coulde barely breathe.)

And as we were leaving said outlet store, Mike had the van door lifted to put his purchases in, and I walked into the door. Yeah, you read that right. I walked into the door. I've got a nice little line bruise on my left cheekbone.

So, after dinner, we went to the beach for a while and then to the pool. We're having a good time, right, playing and having fun. Griff's on my back, and Mike comes up behind me and throws Griff over me. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Except that Griff didn't quite clear me, and I took a knee to the head. Things went all black for a moment and a little swirly for a bit after that. I was dizzy and sick at my stomach all night long.

The next morning, I still wasn't feeling so great, and Mike said, "you don't think I gave you a concussion, do you? If I had the laptop, I'd Google it." So, of course, I called Mandy, who Googled it for me. So once I got enough Advil in me and enough food to even out my equilibrium, I felt okay. And we laughed all weekend about how Mike gave me a concussion.

And in the go-mama category, there was a group of teenagers on the beach near us Friday evening. There were lots of stingrays in the water this weekend (which is gonna freak my grandmother out when I tell her), and it was kinda neat to see them (you know... from a distance... I'm not so much on nature getting too close to me). In this group of teens, one girl took a rock and threw it and hit one of the stingrays.

Now, this was right in front of all of my kids, and I just flipped. She picked it up and began to walk it out of the water. Before I knew it, I was yelling at her to put it back in the water. Thankfully, her chaperone came up and told her the same thing before my head really started to spin around. Look at me... standing up for wildlife. (And that was before the concussion.)

So, that's our beach weekend. I'll post pictures tomorrow.

[  posted by Chel on Sunday, May 06, 2007  ]

Thursday, May 3

I logged on to say that I'd be gone for a bit as Mike's dad and his wife are visiting... we're meeting Mike's brother and his family tomorrow at the beach for the weekend! ... but then, I got great news & had to blog it instead...


I am so proud I can hardly stand it! Yay, Griff!!

[  posted by Chel on Thursday, May 03, 2007  ]

Wednesday, May 2

Tonight, we're chilling out... having fund-raiser Little Caesar's pizza for dinner and then heading out to the Baskin Robbins for 31 cent night before watching Bon Jovi on "Idol" and a new episode of "CSI:NY." It's May, now, you know... sweeps. (deep, happy sigh)

[  posted by Chel on Wednesday, May 02, 2007  ]

Tuesday, May 1

We did it. We cleaned out and organized the garage. And I am so proud of us! We worked hard and frankly, we accomplished more (with less) than I had anticipated.

The 30 Day Organizational Challenge over at Org Junkie is what finally got me off my tush to finally get some things done, and so I'm grateful for the motivation. As part of the Challenge, I'm supposed to write about the process we used ('shoved it outside, threw some out, moved it back in' apparently isn't thorough enough).

These are shots of what the garage looked like before we began this process.

We've never had a garage before we moved into this house (Mike actually still refers to it as 'the shed.'), so we just kinda piled all of our not-yet-placed stuff in it when we moved in here.

After we'd been here for a bit, we discovered that neither the van nor the truck will actually fit into the garage, so it was wasted space. So this Challenge was perfect for me.

Now, the questions.
1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it? In all honesty, the hardest part for me was simply getting going. It's been a hard month here for various reasons, and it was hard to get moving and decide that this could be done. But because I had blogged that I was going to do it, I felt obligated. Sometimes, a little accountability is a good thing.

These photos show how things got even messier before they got better.

At one point, Mike commented that the neighbors probably thought we were moving again.

2. Tell us what kinds of changes/habits have you put into place for you new room to maintain its order. The organization of the space makes it easier to keep it organized, though that sounds dull. But seriously, if we're actually able to access and use the stuff out there, we're less likely to just dump other stuff out there.
3. What did you do with the 'stuff' you were able to purge out of your newly organized space? Some went - deservedly - to the trash while other things went to the Goodwill. But in the end, we didn't have that much that needed to be cleared out (we did that a year ago when we moved). We just had things that were badly organized and improperly labeled thus making it hard to find and use.
4. What was the biggest lesson that you learned from this experience? I think of houses as family members. Before, the garage just looked foreign and uncomfortable. But now, it feels like me and Mike and the kids. And so, I guess the lesson is that, with time, we're all going to feel like home here.
5. Now that you have completed the PROCESS, do you think having and keeping your space organized will make a difference in your life? Good heavens, yes! Look at all that we did...

We got it all cleaned out with lots of empty space in the middle of the room for when Eliza wants to chalk the floor or ride her trike while I walk on the treadmill.

Mike has his own side... with a peg board for his tools, a hanging organizer for rakes and shovels and such... a work surface for projects, and storage for the shop vac, recycle bins and buckets.

With, of course, an Astros sign...

The treadmill is all cleaned off, so I can use it again. And I organized the school supplies in the colorful bin (I know, now that school's almost done for the year) thus making it easier to find paper and stickies and glue and such. And we bought a new chest freezer (the old one wouldn't fit on the U-haul to make the trip to Florida), so it's all plugged in and humming along.

My side features the holiday corner with all manner of bins with holiday decorations, the Christmas trees (the new green one and the tacky aluminum one from Mike's childhood) and the bikes are hung from the ceiling out of the way (though I do keep bashing my head into the handlebars).

I also opened the folding table to use as a work surface. The printer is on it, along with bins of pens, markers, crayons and sharpened pencils (we're always looking for a good pencil). I've stored the paint we've used this spring to re-do the inside of the house under the table, so I can get to it easily for touch-ups (with a 3-year-old, we've got touch-up needs).

And this pictoral wouldn't be complete without a photo of my best helper.

All-in-all, I'm quite proud of what we accomplished. I was able to spend what I thought was a reasonable amount of money to accomplish a great deal. And so, whether I win a prize in the contest or not, I'm pretty sure I already won.

[  posted by Chel on Tuesday, May 01, 2007  ]