Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 - The Year of Shock and Surprise

Looking back, I spent a lot of time in 2009 being surprised and shocked by people. Surprised and shocked by their greed, thievery, unethical behavior, and plain old not giving a shit about anyone else on the planet except themselves. There were a lot of times when I walked around feeling like I had been punched in the chest out of shock. Seriously. Some people were just not good this year.

Don't quit reading here.... There's a big but ahead....

BUT... much MUCH more often than I was shocked in a bad way, I was surprised in a good way. Many, many people surprised me with the strength they exhibited through bad times, their tolerance, their loyalty, and their humor. (You think humor's low on the totem pole of what came in handy this year? You're sorely mistaken! Sometimes a good dose of gallows humor saves the day!) I learned to notice and appreciate simple kindnesses - a random funny text message, a bit of wise advice, a beer, even just hearing "good to see you". Honestly, those things were probably there all the time, but I had my head somewhere else and didn't pay attention. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to clear junk out of my mind and pay more attention to the present moment.

Earlier this year, there was a period of about a month when I didn't want to even look at people because I felt like everyone in the world was sticking their hand out at me demanding something they didn't deserve.

As this year winds down though, and I pull back and look at it, I realize - For every hand that reached out to take and cause harm, ten others reached out to pull me up, to help, to support. For every voice that told me I'm not good enough, I'm not necessary, I'm not important, a dozen voices full of love and caring drowned it out.

Someone I know pointed out to me recently that they think I'm a better person now than I was at the start of this year. Stronger, more focused, wiser. I'd like to believe them. If that's true, then all the chaos and upheaval of this year was worth it.

I just read a really good quote from Pema Chodron: "We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart." I think next year I'm going to try not to keep things so tidy. Not to try to put a bow on everything, and fix everything. Kind of let things just happen and feel how that feels.

Take care. Have a happy and safe New Year. If you're happy 2009 is over, may you bask in that happiness. If you had a good 2009, I hope it carries over into the new year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I believe there is a direct relationship between how happy I've been feeling lately and my coffee intake increasing. Why I gave up coffee for a year, who knows. Bless you, beans of happiness.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Random List of Things I've Done After not having a Job

Just felt like taking a little stock in things I've started doing since I've been free from a job. Someone asked me, "So, what have you done since you got laid off?" My eloquent response? uh... ummmm, I don't know... So this is just me looking back:

  1. Got a cat
  2. Got rid of a TON of junk that I just do not need anymore. Clothes. Bowling pins. Fabric. Old magazines and concert programs.... none of it was doing me any good.
  3. Started a Winter garden. If I even get ONE salad out of it this Winter, I'll be thrilled.
  4. Had a lot of drinks and lunches with people I haven't seen in a long time
  5. Stopped to think.
  6. Set up my bead making area again. Beads to come once my better half gets the electricity set up to where it needs to be.
  7. Did a lot of yoga
  8. Read a lot of Buddhist stuff
  9. Had to let go of trying to plan each and every aspect of everything ever, and let things happen however they're going to happen
  10. Spent a lot of good quality time with my best friend
  11. Started making my own yogurt
  12. I bake our own bread now
  13. I shop local a lot more than I did before

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

That's right people! The Polka Hall of Fame AND the Softball Hall of Fame SHARE a building. I had no idea.

I'm trying to use the free time I have now to do things I've been meaning to do, but never made the time to do. Like, I got my furnace inspected, got my cats to the vet for checkups, made Peachy Chicken... and today, I visited the Polka Hall of Fame.

It was pretty darned cool.

I had the place to myself, except for the lady working in the gift shop. As soon as I got there, I couldn't STOP taking pictures. Sensing I was a PHOF newbie, the Nice Lady came over and asked me if I'd been there before. Then, she played me a very informative video on the history of Cleveland style Polka. Honestly, even though not so distant relatives came over on "the boat", I had no idea about half the stuff they talked about.

I learned that Cleveland Style Polka is generally more melodic and accordion based than other styles. Which I think is good because while I'm open minded, I don't think I would like atonal Polka music, even if it were to be accordion based. Here are some more pictures:

I knew Frankie Yankovic was a big deal - In fact, I saw him when he played at a church my uncle was the pastor of. I did not know, though, that he won the first Grammy for Polka music. Rock on! This is a picture of his Pancordion. The pancordion is also played by Myron Floren, who was the house accordionist for the Lawrence Welk Show.

Once I looked around and saw everything, I went to the gift shop. The woman working in it was really nice. In order to try to get street cred, I did oh-so-casually work in how I appeared on Polka Varieties. Don't know what that is? It was a tv show that aired on Sunday afternoons. Paul Wilcox hosted it, all kinds of Polka bands would play, and people would come in all dressed up and dance to the bands. Think American Bandstand, but with Polkas, and an older crowd.

While I was looking at t-shirts, an older man came in. He was driving past and heard a song on the radio that he liked, so he came in to see what song it was and buy it. The Gift Shop Lady called polka show to see what song it was. They didn't sell it at the shop, but at least the guy had the info he needed to find it on his own.

Then the Gift Shop Lady asked me why I was there. I told her I lost my job and was catching up on things I always meant to do. She said, "Yeah. I figured you got laid off but I didn't want to ask". Then she told me that she herself lost her job earlier this year. She was at her former employer for just shy of 30 years, and there's no chance of her getting called back to work. She also talked to me about her daughter who still has a job, but has had to take on more and more work, to the point where she isn't sure it's worth it.

I wish I was a better writer and could do a better job of capturing the conversations I've had with people. This is such a surreal time for so many people. I am always surprised at how the rotten economy has touched pretty much everyone I come in contact with.


I didn't make it to the Softball Hall of Fame. Polka was enough for one day. Maybe next time :)