Tuesday, April 8, 2014

K.I.S.S.

Why are we still talking about whether or not same-sex couples should be allowed to marry?
 
When an American couple gets married, they may choose to do so in a church, but that ceremony is not what makes the couple legally married. For that, the couple has to apply for and be granted a marriage license, and they must be married in accordance with state laws.
 
The law makes the marriage.
 
The church is for a religious blessing upon the union.
 
A couple who gets married by a judge, like J. and I did, is just as married as a couple who are married in a church by a minister.
 
People who are opposed to same-sex couples being allowed to marry are, for the most part, opposed for religious reasons.
 
But Americans aren't supposed to be governed by the Bible.
 
Church and State are supposed to be separate.
 
How, then, are there ANY grounds for denying same-sex couples the right to marry?
 
This is such a simple concept; it's ridiculous that we're still even talking about it. 
 





Thursday, February 27, 2014

No Excuses

It has dawned on me over the past few weeks that I'm extraordinarily good at making excuses. That's not an easy thing to admit, but it's true.
 
"Organized religion isn't for me because so many Christians are judgmental hypocrites."
 
"I can't go to school and work full-time at the same time; I don't have the energy to devote to both and I don't want to do either one halfway."
 
Truth is, I've been resisting things for no real reason at all.
 
I went to church on Sunday, and it wasn't awful. It was awkward, and scary, and a little bit overwhelming, but it was also good. Being back there, in the midst of something that was so familiar when I was growing up, felt exactly right, like a big piece of the puzzle that is my life had finally slipped into its proper place. So I went to Wednesday night service. And I felt welcomed, and loved, and inspired.
 
Driving home, it occurred to me that the roller coaster life I've had over the last 8 years might just have had a grand design, that this journey has led me back to God. I've always believed in something greater than humanity, greater than this life, but I've let excuses get in the way of really exploring that faith. I don't want to be lumped in with the "Christians" of Westboro Baptist. I don't want to be forced to pretend to be something I'm not, or to pretend to believe something I don't.
 
I'm beginning to see that it doesn't have to be that way. There are good Christians, people who try to be Christ-like, who don't judge and hate and use their religion like a club. They're not perfect, and they'll be the first ones to admit that. The goal is not perfection, anyway. Life is a journey, and a person's relationship with God - like any relationship - is naturally going to change and grow over the course of their life.
 
Though I've been away from church for a very long time, I've never been far from God. I never gave up prayer, and I always believed in Him. But that's not enough for me anymore. I'm realizing that I need to study, to ask questions, to commit myself to my faith again. It's not going to be easy. I'm sure I'm going to be taught things I don't agree with. I'm going to have to learn to bend my will to His, to submit to His wisdom that is so much greater than my own. My spiritual muscles are going to get a workout, and I'm sure that won't come without some "soreness."
 
In the end, will I be a better person? A better Christian? Will I be closer to God? I hope so. But that's not really why I'm doing this. I'm not sure I can even articulate the reasons I agreed that I'd attend church again this Sunday...I just know that it feels like what I'm supposed to do.
 
And it's hard to come up with an excuse to refute that.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Good Grief!

I can't believe it's been SIX MONTHS since I posted here! I suppose I should begin where I left off...
 
After much stress and many long days of waiting, I got the job for which I was hoping. It meant staying on at the properties where I'd been for 18 months, but moving to the company that purchased the buildings. So, in essence: new employer, new coworkers, same job.  It has worked out well. I adore my coworkers. I feel valued and challenged every day. I am happy in my work.
 
We are still living with mom, and that is still going well. There are minor irritations, but we don't argue, and for the most part, it's nice to live together as a family.
 
J. is finishing up his Associates degree, and will be transferring to a local university for the spring semester. It's hard to believe that he's been in school almost three full calendar years! It's likely to take him three more years to complete his Bachelors degree, but that's fine with me. Our routine works well, and I think we're both happier and more at peace than we were for many, many years.
 
Life is good. I'm taking next week off of work, and J. and I are *finally* taking our first vacation together. It's been nine years - yes, I said nine YEARS - since I went on a proper vacation. And it's been seven years since I took a straight week off of work. We're just going to Galveston Island, a five-hour drive from home, and we'll only be gone for four days, but I am beyond excited about it. We have several activities planned, but I left lots of time open to just be lazy at the beach or the pool. I'm looking forward to getting quite a bit of reading done.
 
The past few days I've been stressing a little about the trip, thinking something is going to go wrong. I'm afraid I'm going to forget to take something important with us. I'm afraid the car is going to break down. I'm afraid that it'll rain the whole time we're there.
 
Then I decided this: if you're stressing about your vacation, you're doing it wrong.
 
Yes, something might happen. Something unexpected, even something bad. But there's no sense in borrowing trouble. What will be, will be, and we'll deal with it as it happens. Regardless of what happens during those four days, J. and I will have taken our very first trip together, and that will be something we can look back on for the rest of our lives.
 
As much as I love my job, I'm counting down the hours: 26 hours and 15 minutes till my vacation begins!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Smackdown

Sometimes the universe gives you an attitude adjustment and it's a good thing, like the time I was in a nasty mood for no good reason, and then saw a three-legged dog running and playing and enjoying life. It's kinda hard to keep up a funk after you see that.
 
Other times, the universe gives you a smackdown that says, "Whoa, there, you've gotten a little big for your britches!" That's what I got today.
 
I had a meeting for a committee on which I participate, and M. was there. She mentioned that H. is hesitant to talk to me about the job because she doesn't want it to appear that she's trying to steal employees from my current company (there's a reason for this, but it's too convoluted to explain here). M. told H. that I'm actively looking for an Assistant Property Manager position, because I've been told that I'm not likely to see a promotion from my current company anytime soon. So the ball is in H.'s court.
 
I have no idea what she'll decide, but this definitely ended the barely-contained-excitement I've been living with since Friday. I knew it was a mistake to let myself get so excited about a job for which I didn't even have an interview yet, but I couldn't help myself. The potential good that could come from that job was just too huge!
 
Sigh. I believe that what is meant to be, will be, so I need to just sit back and relax and let the universe do its thing. I need to trust that the right opportunity for me will come along, if I make myself available for it. If this job doesn't work out, I'll just continue putting out feelers and the right job will be there, eventually.
 
It sucks, though. I feel almost like I'm physically stinging from the disappointment. I know it will pass with time, and that I'll probably feel a lot better tomorrow, but right this minute it sucks. It helps to remember the three-legged dog, though.

Going Up!

I fell into property management completely by accident. When J. and I first moved back to Dallas, I had the worst job ever. I quit the day my blood pressure was 172/152, even though I didn't have a backup plan. The next day, I went to a temp agency and was placed with my current company. After three months, I was hired on as a permanent employee and have been here a little over two years now. I love it. Property management is a perfect fit for both my personality and my skill set, and I have been so happy working for four different, amazing property managers.
 
This industry is very fluid, and things are always, ALWAYS changing. My current boss has been talking for the past year about wanting to see me get promoted to an Assistant Property Manager, but we just don't have the portfolio to support it. Plus, it would be a lot of additional responsibility for not that much extra money. So as much as I feel ready to get promoted, and would like to have the new title, I haven't pushed it.
 
Last Friday, I had dinner with M., who was my first boss (when I was a temp). She is the one who initially saw how good I am in this business and who encouraged me to apply for a permanent position. M. has since moved on to a different company, one that is large and currently expanding (so there's lots of room for growth). They have an Assistant Property Manager position available, and M. asked me to apply for it.
 
Here's what I know: I have completed the company's online application. M. will be passing my resume to her boss, H., on Thursday (H. is out of the office until then). M. wants me for the position, but it will be up to H. to actually make the decision. They are in desperate need of help, so they're looking to hire quickly. It would be a promotion for me, one for which I'm well-prepared and ready. And it could potentially be a VERY significant increase in salary. Plus, because of the way M.'s company is structured, it would not be as much responsibility as the same position is at my current company. H. is a great teacher, and loves to take younger people under her wing and "bring them up" in the industry. She is supportive of her employees and wants to see them grow and advance.
 
I am beyond excited about this opportunity, so much so that it scares me. I feel so absolutely certain that this is meant to be my next step, and I'm worried that I'm going to be incredibly disappointed if things don't work out. I'm trying not to think too much about how good this could be for me and J. The increase in salary, if it is what I expect it to be, would allow us to *finally* leverage ourselves into a comfortable financial position over the next year, and then would allow us to raise our standard of living a little. I can't explain how nice that would be, for both of us, and how much I want that.
 
But money isn't the only reason I want this job. I want it, first and foremost, because it's what I've spent the last two years working towards. I've earned it, and I'm ready for the challenges that will come with this new position. I'm starting to stagnate in my current job; I'm going to get bored if I stay here much longer, and that's not good for me or for my company. I don't want to be that kind of employee. Also, I want the title. I hate when someone asks me what I do for my company and I have to say I'm an Administrative Assistant. That's my title, but it doesn't even begin to explain what I actually do here. I function as an Assistant Property Manager; I should get to have the title! Another reason I want the new job is that I've never been promoted. I've always made (essentially) lateral moves, changing from one industry to another. Finally, I've found my niche, and it's time to get some upward movement going! I don't know if I'll ever want to be a property manager, because I just don't know if I want the responsibility. Plus, one of my greatest strengths is in supporting others. By becoming an Assistant Property Manager, I can use that trait but still be in a position more suited to where I am in my life.
 
I'm assuming that since H. has been out of the office all week, I won't be able to set up an interview until at least next week. Until then, I'm sitting on the edge of my seat, trying not to think about it, while it's all I can think about.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

5 stars - 2012

I'm not going to write an end-of-year wrap up for 2012 like I've done the previous two years. Instead, I'm going to write about the books I loved this last year (obviously, I'm a bit behind in publishing this post).
 
I rate the books I read on a 5-point scale, with a 5 being the best. I assign a rating based on my gut feeling immediately after finishing a book. I've been doing this for a while, and generally speaking, when I close the book a number comes into my mind. I rarely give it more thought, preferring instead to trust my instincts to rate each book properly. For the most part, I don't rate non-fiction works, since I read these more for information than to be entertained.
 
In 2012, 9 books out of the 48 I read were rated a 5. Here's a list, in chronological order, along with a few brief thoughts on each:
 
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - I try to read two classic works each year, and I was very glad this was one of my selections for 2012.
 
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie - I've read this book several times since high school, and I never get tired of it. It's an exceptionally well-done example of a locked-room mystery.
 
Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos - The most recent release by my favorite emerging author. When I mention her name to my girlfriends, they invariably say they've never heard of her, and I always tell them to drop whatever they're reading to read her debut, Love Walked In. I'm not normally a fan of chick-lit, but de los Santos does the genre proud.

The Shining by Stephen King - I tried to read this in 2009, and it creeped me out so much that I couldn't get through it. I managed to finish it in 2012, but it's a very scary, and very good, book. There's a reason King is the master of horror.
 
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - I've been talking about this book since I read it in June. The reviews have been very mixed, but I loved it. The characters are among the most unlikeable I've ever encountered, yet I had to find out how their story was going to end. With an impressive twist at the end, it's apparent that Gillian Flynn is close to perfecting her craft.
 
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin - I don't remember this book too clearly, but I do know that I liked the ending. It felt like real life, and I like books that are true that way.
 
I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive by Steve Earle - This was a Kindle Daily Deal, and something told me to snag it while it was cheap. After reading it, I would've happily paid full price.
 
Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman - A friend on the Kindle forum highly recommended this book, and even though it's not my usual genre, something about it intrigued me. I wound up loving the book; it's nice to encounter a good, different story sometimes.
 
Recalculating (short story) by Jennifer Weiner - I haven't read anything else by Jennifer Weiner, but this story seemed to be a departure from her usual genre, and I was curious. I'm glad I picked it up; it's a good story with a cute ending. Definitely worth reading.



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Matthew 6:34

"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."  - Matthew 6:34, English Standard Version

I believe that a Higher Power watches over us, and that what is meant to be, will be. And yet I am a professional-caliber worrier. I worry about big things, and little things, and all the things in between that could potentially become big things to worry about. Sigh...it's a sickness. I've always been this way; I get it from my mom, who is a world-class worrier.

When I get worked up, I try to remind myself of the verse listed above. It's so true. Tomorrow will be here tomorrow, and it will bring along its own share of worry. And I'll have plenty of time to worry about it then.

My worries right now are relatively simple: Will J. finally have a good math professor this semester? Will we really have the money to take the trip we're planning for the end of March? Is this sore tooth going to turn into a major issue? Will our car continue to run well for the foreseeable future? Looking at this list, I realize that all these things are really out of my control. What will be, will be, and I (we) will deal with whatever comes.

No point in borrowing trouble, especially when there's so much trouble to be had in this life.

I am humbled when I compare my worries to current events in the lives of my friends. One just lost a pregnancy. One is newly pregnant (and over the moon), but with a husband who is lacking in the enthusiasm department (and other departments, if I'm being honest). One is taking charge of her grandmother's medical care, as her grandma has just been diagnosed with leukemia.

I guess, if I feel the need to worry, I can worry for them.

Then again...no.

"Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Biggest Regret

J. and I celebrated four years together this past weekend. It feels good to be starting another year together; we've come so far in the last four years, and it's nice to look forward to all the things we want to do and accomplish, both individually and as a couple. If all goes according to plan, in 2013 J. will finish his associates degree and we'll take our first trip together. I hope - and am determined - that 2013 will be a good year for us.

Milestones always make me reflect on my past, though. I try not to have regrets, believing that they're basically useless - the point is to make better choices in the future. But we all have a few things that eat at us: things we wish we'd done or said, or said or done differently. One can't get through life without a few of those. My biggest regret still gnaws at me sometimes, and that's what I've been contemplating the past few days.

I wasn't faithful to R. when we were married.

Phew, that is *hard* to say out loud! I've only told a select few people about this until now; even R. doesn't know (as far as I know). I'm deeply ashamed of my poor choices, and I fully believe that my marriage fell apart because of the secret I was keeping. It was karma. Granted, I think the marriage had a short sell-by date anyway, but my outside relationship didn't help. Now, though, I think I *need* to talk about it. I need to own this mistake. I need to publicly acknowledge that I committed one of the biggest betrayals a person can commit, and take whatever flak comes from that.

Looking back, the most important question we can ask ourselves is, "Why?" If we don't want to repeat our mistakes, we have to understand why we made them in the first place. The easy answer is to say that something was lacking in my marriage, that I felt unfulfilled in some way...and that's probably true, to an extent. But the bottom line is that I allowed myself to be tempted. I put myself in a position that a married person should never allow themselves to be, and my willpower was no match for that slippery slope.

I'll probably always feel guilt for my actions. I know I can't change what I did, and that there's no point in beating myself up over it. But guilt can be a good thing. At least I know it will keep me from making the same mistake ever again.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Feeling Grinchy

I normally love the holiday season. It makes me happy to decorate my house, and send out Christmas cards, and sing along with holiday music. Not this year. And I think it's because we sort of had Christmas ripped out from under us. It was already going to be a tight year, but we've had tight years every year we've been together, and we always manage to come up with a little money to get each other something. Then we had to get a new car. And while I'm very, VERY grateful that we were able to do that, it forced a reworking of our budget that will not allow for any Christmas gifts this year. As it is, I'm holding my breath to see if my Christmas bonus will be enough to cover J's spring classes. If it's not, I'll have to tighten the budget even further. Sigh...it's just frustrating. I'm too old to be this broke!

I know I have a lot of good in my life. And, for the most part, I couldn't care less about material things. The part I enjoy about the holidays is finding and giving the perfect gift, and I won't be able to do that this year. That's what makes me feel Grinchy. And then I feel guilty for being so selfish, which makes me even more Grinchy. Rinse and repeat.

Maybe I'll get lucky and something will happen between now and Christmas that will snap me out of this funk.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

An Update

Well, I fell off the face of the earth, didn't I? Sorry about that. Things have been stressful around here, and when life is like that, I tend to do what I call "turtling." I pull my arms and legs close, tuck my head down, and try to let life pass me by. Sometimes it works; sometimes I end up a spinning shell in the middle of a busy highway. Don't worry, though, it's nothing serious.

Our car died. (Ok, maybe it's a *little* serious.) We were really hoping to make that car - a 2000 Ford Escort with 125K miles - last another six months or so, but the transmission started giving us trouble. Since we'd already replaced the transmission once, and since the car had other issues, it just didn't make sense to do it again. So when J. was driving it and the first two gears disappeared, we decided it was time to make a switch.

Granted, we weren't really prepared to buy a new car. With my credit history, which includes two repossessions (gotta love what divorce does to your credit!), I had to take what I could get. I was able to qualify for a last-chance program through a local Ford dealership. They got us into a 2004 Ford Taurus with reasonable payments for only 27 months. The plan is to keep the Taurus for 18 months and then, since I'll have good car credit history, trade it in on a new car.

One problem: the Taurus is leaking oil. We weren't thrilled with the fact that it had 120K miles on it, but it's in overall good shape, and it was the only car they had that I qualified for, so we didn't have much choice. And then it started leaking oil. Thank God the dealership is doing the right thing and fixing it for us (it doesn't hurt that my dad has worked for this dealer for 30+ years). So right now my "new" car is in the shop and I'm driving a loaner. Sigh.

Other than the car thing, J. has been really stressed about school. He's got three weeks left, and there's a 50/50 chance he's going to fail one or two of his classes. He's worked really hard, and I think he'll end up passing both of the ones he's worried about, but we just don't know for sure. If he passes both those classes, he would still need to take a 4-hour winter term class to be eligible for financial aid in the spring. Which means he would have no break between semesters. Plus, after having to buy a new car, we don't have the money to pay for the winter term tuition and book. After talking about it for the better part of a week, I put my foot down and told him that he's not taking the winter term class. He needs a break. *I* need a break, because when he's stressed, it stresses me (not healthy, I know...not sure how to fix that problem, though). That means that we won't get any financial aid until the fall semester, but we'll figure things out. If I get a new job with better pay, that will help loosen the financial noose we're in now that we have a car payment.

Oh, didn't I mention that I'm job-hunting? Yeah. As if I didn't have enough on my plate, right? After talking with a good friend who has a similar background and work history as I do, I've realized that I'm making a LOT less money than I should be. Like, $9,000-$18,000 less than I should be. I know that the only way I'm going to get a significant raise in my current position is if I get promoted, which will be a ton of added responsibility, including being on-call 24/7. Why on earth would I do that if I can make a "lateral" move (in terms of title) and make more money? So I've been putting my resume out there. I had a call the day after I posted my resume on Monster, but the job wasn't offering enough money, so I didn't even schedule an interview. Haven't had any more nibbles yet, but I'm continuing to apply for positions, and I've got two friends who are professional recruiters looking at my resume.

Phew! With all this going on, and the fact that there will be zero dollars for Christmas presents, (my Christmas bonus will go to pay for J's spring classes), we've decided to skip Christmas this year. We're not dressing the house, and we're just going to avoid the whole thing as much as possible. It makes me a little sad, since I had some good ideas for presents for J and my mom, but overall I like the idea of having a low-key holiday season. I just don't need the added stress this year. Sad that I equate stress with the holidays, but we all know that stress is an inevitable part of the season.

So...I guess it's not surprising that I got off track with my Days of Thanks project. But while I've been turtling, I've had some time to think about being thankful. Here are some of my thoughts: I'm thankful that my in-laws were willing to help us make the down payment on our new car. I'm thankful that we are able to make a car payment, even if it does make our budget really tight. I'm thankful that J is devoted enough to his education to stress when things aren't going well. I'm thankful that I have the ability to give him the opportunity to go to school. I'm thankful that I have the ability to look for another job. I'm thankful to be healthy and happy. I'm thankful to be married to the perfect man for me, and to have a real partner with whom to share my life.

I may be stressed, and I may pull into my shell from time to time, but I know that my life is blessed. Now, if only I'd won the PowerBall jackpot...