Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rainy Day

It rained all day yesterday. The raindrops tapped on our metal roof in gentle rhythm, lulling us all into a laziness that lasted the entire day.

We desperately needed a rain like this one, one that began during the night on Friday night, continued throughout the day yesterday, and is hanging on in the early hours this morning. Georgia has been in a severe drought for the past two years, and this type of rain is most welcome. I can visualize farmers dancing in their fields, slushing through the mud, raising their hands to the sky in thanksgiving and praise for this wonderful rainfall. I also can hear in my mind the prayers in churches this morning that include something about the rain as the streams, rivers and lakes all receive their manna from heaven.

Indeed, it was a lazy day in our house. None of us seemed able to muster the energy to get much accomplished. I was successful in getting our Christmas tree decorated, while Phil and the cats snoozed on the chaise, and Diamond stretched out on the living room rug to keep watch on what I was doing, working up the energy to wag her tail occasionally if I should pause to give her a pat on the head. Once the tree was dressed, and the lights were turned on, I settled in the lounge chair and joined my family in their reverie. Football games on the television kept us somewhat interested; however, we snoozed through many exciting plays, and only got the final score of some of them.

We didn’t want to cook, either. Since we didn’t have a traditional Thanksgiving feast on Thursday, there were no leftovers to nibble on, so I was forced to do something for our dinner. The easy way was the one I took- the crockpot. I put a pork roast in it around noon, and by 4:00, the aroma was enough to rouse us from our easy chairs to eat dinner. Phil and I put together a quick meal, and had an early supper, sharing nibbles of it with our “kids” as they sat patiently beside the table, eyes glued on us hoping for a hand-out. The glass of wine with dinner made us sleepy again, and back to the comfort of the living room and television we went.

Everyone needs days like this one which soothe the mind and replenish the soul. It was a day of hibernation, of rest and revitalization. The earth needed this day as well as we did, as the ground welcomed each raindrop, soaking it in and storing it for future use.

I love these rainy days………

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Four Words

Tuesday evening after talking to Wade on my cell phone for a little while, I noticed that I had a text message waiting for me. When I checked to see what it was, there were only four words in the message, “I have breast cancer.”

This certainly wasn’t a message I wanted to receive, especially from the sender of the message, Lynne, one of my dearest friends. I immediately called her on the phone to respond to her short message. I remembered the phone call I received over seven years ago when my breast surgeon told me, “You have breast cancer.” I knew the feeling of receiving this message, and I knew that Lynne needed my support.

I’d never wish breast cancer on anyone, but once you know you have it, you are immediately a member of a sisterhood of support, prayers, faith, fears, and always optimism. It is the optimism and faith that keep you going as you make decisions on the best treatment, how to make it through the next few months, and ultimately how you are going to let it affect your life. For me, it has been an ongoing journey, one that I am still traveling, although I’ve had a clean bill of health now for a number of years. Lynne is at the beginning of her journey, and she has a lot to experience and learn. She will soon find out who her true friends are, who she can trust and whose advice she can cast aside, and how to block the negative remarks that come her way, always from well-meaning folks.

For me, it has been a life-changer. I live daily with the physical – the tightness on my left side, numbness that includes an itch that I can’t scratch, and a permanent ice cream scoop sized dent in my left breast. But on the spiritual side, breast cancer has also enriched my life. I welcome each day with thankfulness and hope, and I am now much more aware of my world around me. I’ve learned, and am still learning, what things are important, and which ones I can toss. I’ve met some wonderful people, and have made some great friends. I now wear a badge of honor, a little pink ribbon, and I walk proudly as a survivor in cancer walks.

Yes, Lynne, I’d never wish this on anyone, especially you. But I know that you are strong and determined, and I am confident that you are going to be fine.

Just like me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Live First, Work Second

This was the subject of one of the four educational sessions I sat in on at the CoreNet Global Fall Summit this week. Part of my job for the three days was to attend these sessions, take notes, and then write up brief reports on them for the website. The others that I attended were on the hyper-connected workplace, sustainability practices, and future-proofing the workplace. For those in corporate real estate, these three were very timely, and were actually very interesting to me.

However, the session on Live First, Work Second struck a chord with me. While the gist of the session was on looking at the Millennial Generation (those folks now in their 20s who are coming into the workplace in droves) and how they look at life and work, there was one thing that Rebecca Ryan, the speaker, said that stuck with me.

She said that we come into the workplace carrying five balls, one rubber ball and four glass balls. The rubber ball is our work (or job). The four glass balls are our family, our friends, our health, and our integrity. We juggle all of these balls as we live and work. If we should drop the rubber ball, our work, it will bounce back. If we drop any of the other balls, they will shatter. As she spoke of the Millennial Generation, she said that these “kids” understand this and openly declare that they have both a life and a career, and they realize the resilience of the rubber ball.

All of this made me think about my own life and work. I love my job, but I also value my personal life and my private time. There have been times when I thought I didn’t take my work seriously enough, which was why I didn’t climb the professional ladder as some of my peers had done. As I think of these five balls, I now understand that maybe I made the right choices along the way, and sometimes let the rubber ball drop while I held tightly to the glass balls.

Some call this work/life balance. The Millennials turn it around and call it life/work balance. I like Rebecca’s title: Live First, Work Second.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election

It’s over. All of the campaigning, the constant chatter on the television, the heated discussions on the bus, in restaurants, and just about anywhere we have been for the past two years where opinions differ- it’s oddly quiet today.

Last night, Phil, who has been following the presidential process closely, watched a movie on television. When I asked him if he was going to follow the election returns, he told me that he’d wait until morning to find out who won after all was said and done. I went into the bedroom early and settled down with the book I am currently reading. It was blessedly peaceful in our home, compared to the past several months of listening to spin, poll results, pundits debating, and all kinds of hypothesizing on all of the cable stations that Phil follows religiously.

This morning the bus ride into Atlanta was eerily quiet. Nobody mentioned the election, or even talked much at all during the commute. Once in my office, I found people reluctant to say something to co-workers, including myself. I knew pretty much who in the office voted for which candidate, and I could tell who was rejoicing and who was mourning, even though there wasn’t much conversation. By lunchtime, a few people tested the water and a discussion began about the election around our lunch table, although nobody said anything that would offend someone who didn’t feel the same way. Even at the bus stop this afternoon, small groups were clustered, talking in whispers. It was all very dignified and politically correct, I thought.

Now I will watch and wait. I don’t know what’s going to happen, which promises will be kept, and what the future will hold for our country. The stock market took a nose dive today. I imagine it was due to a lot of people grabbing their capital gains before the predicted taxes go up on them. After the last month of economic crisis, the gasoline shortage and of the tail end of the presidential election, we’ve all been on a wild roller coaster ride. Nobody really knows what the best course of action for us individually is in regard to our retirement funds, our methods of saving, or our strategies for maneuvering into the future. We are watching our president-elect select his cabinet and chief advisors, and hope that his decisions are wise. We also wish him well with the enormous task that is now before him. Some of us are bitter, others are disappointed. Many are jubilant. History has been made, and change is definitely coming our way. Personally, I am weary of the whole shebang.

I just hope he doesn’t screw up!