Thursday, March 20, 2014

Changes Are Coming - & My Kitchen Smells So Yummy!

A few weeks ago, as I thought all was well  with my small little world, my system was about to be shocked to it's core.  I called my boss for our weekly update and he told me that my position was eliminated - translation: I was laid off!  My head spun.  My heart went into shock and the more he talked, the faster it beat!  When he asked if I had any questions, I said 'no' in as calm a voice as I could muster.  I hung up & told my colleagues & staff, then D.  To everyone, except Hubby, I appeared very cool.

Impacted, but not overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.  "Oh well, I knew this was coming" (which I did), I'd say.
"Well, I really wasn't happy making widgets anyway, that was supposed to be temporary", I'd honestly reflect.
"At least I have severance", I'd say trying to focus on being thankful.
"I needed a break anyway", I muse with a smile on my face & in my voice (funny how that works).

But to Hubby... poor Hubby, I was a zombie.  Not talking.  Just walking around in a fog!  Tossing and turning all night.  Dreaming about everything bad that could possibly go wrong.  Every morning for the past few weeks when he woke me to say good bye, I'd jump - and yelp!  Every thing was scaring me - absolutely everything!

But as afraid as I was, I started down the path of updating my resume, networking and applying for new positions.  MANY new positions within my old company - after all, I didn't want to be unemployed... I wanted to stay with the same company, work from my home in my jeans and slippers, and continue to receive my paycheck - a paycheck that I'd not been without for more than 20 years!  But apparently life had other options for me!  I did not find another job with my company before my final day.  I was officially unemployed!

While I went through the motions of updating my resume and trying to think of an introductory statement that outlined what I could contribute to the perspective company, I just stared at the blank screen!  I wasn't even sure myself!  So, I thought - 'perhaps this is a time for me to think about what I really want to do'.  After all, for the last 25 years, I'd been doing what was best for everyone else... don't get me wrong, I liked my job & was VERY fortunate & blessed to have it.  BUT... when I was a little girl, I didn't dream about being a director in a Fortune 25 company.  I dreamed about being a wife and a mother...

I was going to get married & have children and stay home and raise them.  I was going to go to school plays, be the class mom and have my kids' friends visit often.  I was going to cook everyday for everyone.  And we were all going to live happily ever after! :-)  Not the typical dream of a "smart" girl growing up in the 60's.  But those were my dreams.  And for some years - but no where near enough, I was fulfilling those dreams.  Life happened and that dream ended.

Now, it has occurred to me that while I do not want any more children, unless "grand" precedes "children",  I would like the opportunity to play "wifey", if only for a while... You know, that woman who eats chocolates all day, cleans the house, cooks the meals, shops, doesn't worry about bills & supports her husband's chosen career with a happy smile & sugary sweet attitude.  Don't ask me where I ever got this dreamy image...LOL... I don't recall knowing anyone like this from my childhood-and I guess that is why they are called dreams!

Anyway, a few days ago I dreamt of a song our choir sings with words coaxing us to lean on Jesus.  When I woke that morning, the terror that was encompassing me for the past 2 weeks had left.  I wasn't happy... but I wasn't scared.  I was no longer terrified.  (Not sure why, I still have bills to pay & a household that needs 2 incomes!)

All that said, since that day, I have thought about what I want to do now.  "Wifey" will do for about a week or so, but any longer than that & I"ll probably be nuts.  When I think about what I like to do, what I LOVE to do, it is to COOK & entertain!

Nothing makes me happier than having our home filled with friends and family, sitting around our big dining room table sharing a meal.  I'm happiest when I'm cooking & ensuring everything is 'just right' - whether it's a pork loin; garlic chicken; crown roast; candied sweet potatoes; apples - galore cake; rice & beans; macaroni and cheese; banana, cranberry or chocolate muffins... I want it all to be perfect!  And I work hard at getting it as close to perfection as I can.  And all the work that goes into reaching for perfection is well worth the outcome.

So, why not take my love and turn it into a career?  Into a business?  I am thinking about it... hard.  Everyone who has tasted one, raves about my muffins.  


The silky texture, the multitude of fruit, the chunks of real banana and the exploding blueberries.  All that said, I know that selling muffins to help pay for tuition is different than selling muffins to pay for household bills.  I need plans - a business plan, a marketing plan, a communication plan.... LOTS of plans!

So... I am going to begin  planning.  I WANT this path, but I'm not sure if it is the right path so I'm treading lightly.  I'm going to take the same path I took when I decided so many years ago to start to date... I'm just going to take one tiny step forward and let Him do the rest.

Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Day I Felt Like a Princess

For one day in my memory - and it was only a while ago, I felt like a princess. After months of worrying about small things like favors and shoes, menus and venues, divorces and annulments, the day came.  It started off with rain.  I cried - not on the outside, but on the inside I cried in a pure panic.  I wanted everything to be perfect that day and the weather was going to ruin it!  "I just can't catch a break", I thought as my BFF drove me to the salon to get my wedding day look.  

But then as usual I thought, 'somehow I must deserve this!  What an idiot I'd been.'  I was quiet... wondering if this was a sign from God of the things to come... wondering if I should have planned all this hoopla after all.  I was 52 years old for heaven's sake.  Why did I think I deserved to have a day like a 20-something girl.  And so I resigned myself to rain on my wedding day - after all it was too late to cancel!  

We arrived at the salon and I took a deep breath, got out of the car and became determined to 'suck it up' to not spoil everyone else's good time - after all weddings were supposed to be fun!  It didn't matter much that I thought I would not have fun... because that is what I'd been doing for so long - sucking it up so the "guests" in my life were inconvenienced as little as possible.

And so it continued... preparation.  

Hair then make up.  Not the normal "just do whatever, but make it quick" hairstyle. Erryn took my flat hair & extensions and turned them into an elegant up-do with enough curls to make me happy. 

And the eyebrows that used to be bushy and out of control when I was young (think Eddie Munster), but now with age & intense tweezing had turned into a thin mess that I'd grown to tolerate - well she was able to make them look not only presentable, but pretty.  

By the time she was done, I'd relaxed (a little).  I looked at my reflection in the mirror.  The pretty pins she put in my hair to accentuate the curls.  The up-do.  The eyebrows that were miraculously just right.  Erryn said, "so how do you feel?" And I cried and said "I'm getting married again - I really am".  The girls in the salon laughed - a good hearted, well meaning laugh.  They had heard about this journey I'd been on.  Then I looked outside and while the rain had stopped, the clouds hovered.  I breathed a sign of relief... because if I couldn't have a sunny day, I'd settle for a cloudy one without rain.  Perhaps I'd have a little fun that day.

Into the car we went & drove north... stopping to get this, that and the other - you know, all those little things that seem so important a few hours before you are walk down the aisle.  

I don't recall what we talked about on the drive.  But I do remember the "I can't believe I'm getting married!  ME?" feeling.  Reaching the church, before taking the dress out of the car I checked the bag once more to ensure everything was secure.  After all, even though I knew it would get dirty once we came outside after the wedding, I didn't want it to be dirty when I walked down the aisle - yes, even if no one would notice the dirt.  

Up the steps and into the church we went.  
Mary went about putting bows on the aisle seats and ensuring no one sat in the first row, traditionally reserved for the parents of the bride & parents of of the groom.  Sadly, none of our parents would be in attendance.  I could only hope that mine were looking at me from heaven, and, that they were smiling.  But, even though neither sets of parents would be in attendance, we had the best surrogates - 
My brother...and his wonderful wife.  And Doris - a woman who opened her heart to Don and showered him with the love and attention he deserves.

Onto the main event...out of 'regular' clothes and into my "Mary, Holy Crap, I'm getting married!" clothes - my wedding gown.  

It wasn't the traditional white gown.  A traditional white gown was for the girl that I once was, the young woman I once was. The girl who knew what self-confidence was--- it was the thing that the other kids had.  The girl & young woman who knew what pretty was - it was the thing the other girls and young women were.  God hadn't blessed me with looks.  The girl who had heard "you'll never get married again... no one will ever want you" from someone who was having a 'mean' moment & probably didn't mean it - but I remembered and believed those words from that day until this day.
I chose a non-traditional gown. The gown that said "I" am getting married.  Me.  My mom's "Ladybug".  The woman I'd grown into.  The mother of 3 sons who are my sun.  The professional woman who has been winning against the odds for a very long time.  Self-confidence doesn't elude me anymore. The woman who used to hate her smile but now is happy to have it as my sign of welcoming and love to all with whom I share it. The woman who lost 70 pounds on my own!  The woman who is only concerned about one person thinking I'm pretty --- and he thinks I'm pretty & SEXY to boot!  (Pretty dies, Sexy lives forever!)  I chose the gown that says, 'here I am and I'm happy to be me'.

After climbing into the dress and all it's paraphernalia, I slipped on my "something old" shoes.  Black sling backs that didn't scream 'wedding', they screamed - 'no one will see them anyway & it's more important to not be taller than him in the pictures than it is to have on 'wedding shoes'.  

Then came my "something blue" anklet that was given to me by a dear friend... a woman who when she sings, sounds just like my mother!  Her voice often brings me to tears.

Finally came my 'something borrowed'.  And onto this head that never wore a veil before, was placed a veil.  This one is so special because it was made by the 'little girl' who has become a dear, dear friend.  My sister placed it on my head--- finding just the right spot to have it lay and flow just so.    

Dressed in my gown, I looked in the mirror and a princess was staring back at me.  A princess had never stared back at me, had never smiled at me.  But there she was in the mirror: staring, smiling, saying "yes, you really do look pretty... he's going to love this dress!"  

Then Kitty came in to check on me & said "Girl, that dress was pretty in the closet, but the hanger didn't do it any justice!  It's beautiful.  You look gorgeous! "  We all shared a good laugh that broke the tension... and kept my tears from flowing.  And then my sister said, "Yeah Sis, you look really pretty".  Since I left home before we learned to like one another, I had never heard these words come from her mouth!  It was the sign I needed to know that all would be okay - gray skies & all!  Even if it started raining again, it was going to be a good day!  I was going to have fun. 

As we waited for all the guests to arrive (there was an accident on the freeway that most guests were using to get to the church), time seemed to slow down.  We came out of the hot dressing room & made our way into the hallway... watching guest hurry through the doors and to their seats.  I looked outside and the sun was shining brightly... another good sign!  I relaxed.

Finally, the musician began to sing the prelude, "You & I".  "Pachabel" sounded the entrance of the matron of honor. Bouquets in hand; my brother & my arms locked; Mary and I smiling our secret "OMG I'm getting married" smile at each other, and finally we were ready.  

Mary starts towards the door in her beautiful crimson dress.  A smile on her face.  I feel so excited, yet so peaceful!  And then, before she gets to the door to enter the church, time speeds up!  
My brother decides he has to pee and tries to pull his arm from mine.  "NO! NO! NOOOOOO!  WAIT!" I say.  "Aw, it'll just take a second" he says while he unlocks my death grip on his arm. Time is whizzing by now. Pachabell sounds like it is a 45 being played on 78 speed!  All my planning!  All my worrying!  Even the sun had come out & dried the ground - yet my brother - my brother who I adored - was going to make me late walking down the aisle.  Well I wasn't going to have that & just as I was about to scream "Hurry up dammit!" he appears.  Smiling!  You'd have to know my brother.  "See," he says, "what were you worried about?"   and I looked into his eyes that always seemed to be smiling and I laughed.  The 'Wedding March' stated and we walked.

Our guests stood.  I saw more cell phones than faces. My whole body smiled as we walked down what seemed a long aisle. Time had slowed once again.  I felt special, like the princess I never was.

Upon hearing the minister ask who gives this woman in marriage, my brother, the one who I was going to yell at 3 minutes earlier; the one who told me that our mother died; the one that cheered when I graduated early from high school; the one who said "It'll be okay" when I cried; the one who told me "of course you can do .... you can do anything you want"; the one who didn't want me to move to Ohio, but supported me anyway because it was what I wanted; the one who took me motorcycle riding at 12, then taught me to ride one - at 12!  Yes that one.  That big brother of mine said "I do", kissed me tenderly on the cheek & took his very rightful seat as Father of the Bride.
In just a few minutes, after a reading and a prayer, the minister pronounced us as Mr. and Mrs.  We kissed & then my husband yelled "Yahoo" for all to hear & pushed his fist into the air. I laughed.  Everyone laughed.
I finally understood after all this time, all these years with him that not only was I a princess - his princess - I was his prize!
Our wedding day was beautiful!  Sun shining.  Lots of smiling faces & good wishes from so many friends and family. Good food and music at the reception.  Just enough excitement to make for fun memories.  And I felt like a princess!  In fact a little bit of that feeling remains today... 
Me - A Princess.  
His Princess   

Answered Prayers

As I get older, I find the answers to my prayers in the oddest ways.   Once I had someone in my life and started planning our wedding and married life and thinking about the challenges that couples like us might face, I said lots of prayers... After all, we are "oil & vinegar" - most times we mix quite nicely; but sometimes we can't mix, so we stay in our separate bottles! :-)

I prayed he come to mass with me - even though he isn't (and probably never will be) Catholic.  
          Today he gets me out of bed to ensure we are on time; during the week he talks about what "Father" said at mass; and is he is chairing the Fish Fry! (Granted, he probably has no clue how much work this will be! LOL)

As I have seen from friends who re-married, it is often difficult to blend families... Lifetime movies about the happy family where everyone gets along & step children are just happy to see their parents happy - well movies are just that - movies.  So I prayed for someone who would love my children, and who my children would love - knowing that their vastly different backgrounds and life experiences will sometimes puts my boys & my husband at opposite ends of an issue, so I prayed for love, knowing that "like"is part of love & "like" has it's ups and downs.

          Lately he's been asking "Well what restaurants do A&S like?" so he can get a gift card for them when we are grocery shopping.  He doesn't know them well enough to know what they like, but he knows that A likes to eat!  And there really is no special occasion coming up.  He is trying his best to say "trying to get to know you" in the only way he knows how.

          Or he will say "Have you talked to D? Is he okay?  Does he need anything?"  He knows I worry about my baby who is so far away... even though he is with his dad & family there, I still worry, and he knows if he gets me to talk about my fears that he will be able to calm my fears.

          Out of the blue, he will say "Do you want to go see 'the kids' after mass?"  When would I not want to go see "the kids" - only never!  And when we arrive, he rubs his hands with hand sanitizer and picks up Baby Girl J - the key to his heart - and marvels at how big she's gotten, how much she looks like her mom & how happy she is!  And then he takes a look at Baby Boy J - sleeping as normal & remarks "we know where he got that from" referring to how my boys and I all like to sleep!

You know, my faith isn't nearly as big as a mustard seed... but it's growing.  And each time I see these answered prayers,my faith grows just a bit more!