Monday, November 29, 2010

Season of Peace and of Joy

While I'm as busy as I ever am this time of year, I have found some calm and peacefulness too, because the storm of events that had tossed me around emotionally has started to settle down.  The heartache and conflict I experienced after my decision to leave my relationship is easing up, our friendship is intact, and I'm feeling hopeful about my own future. I'm fully recovering, also, from having the apron strings severed at work - and I'm finding I have a very strong inner drive that needs no outside influence.  My fire is lit and I can keep it burning on my own!  Both my home and office moves are complete, and while there is some fine-tuning to be done at home, I am really liking the new places.

My workspace is absolutely fantastic.  I sit in what is generally considered the best seat in the sales department, a corner desk facing North looking out 4 very large windows here in the 6th floor of the our office building.  I've got close-in tree tops to my right, and they provide the backdrop for all sorts of shenanigans  by crows, finches and other fine feathered acrobats, especially when the breeze picks up.

To my left, I have a more expansive view, which allows me to stretch my eyes and watch the horizon blush when day flirts with night each morning and evening.  The fog adds another shifting dimension, and it's an ever-changing scene which makes my soul smile.  How can one be stressed out when you can see the world continuing on it's lovely way every day? 

Besides the views, I have more quiet than at my old office.  Facing North, the sun is never blinding me and I can leave the blinds all the way up and not touch them again.  I'm away from the door through which the smokers clanged incessantly at the old office, and away from the threshold to my boss's office, where there was a constant flow of traffic and lots of loud and sometimes even raucous conversation.  I can concentrate here.  I'm far more productive. It shows in my numbers and sales.  I'm also finding my own personal groove here, which isn't so dependent on the relationships I have with people in my office, although those are good, too.  I'm happy, though, that is my work is what is driving my contentment and which gives me purpose.  Helping my clients.  Doing the activities which drive revenue.  Owning my territory.  I'm grateful to have a job at all, and even more so to have one which satisfies me so well and allows me to care for my family and enjoy some of the niceties of life.

Speaking of niceties, I've been enjoying some good times lately and am planning more.  I've recently gone wine tasting in Hood River with a fun group of friends, and I have been enjoying viewing art with another newer friend.  We are planning to go up to Tacoma and Seattle for a change of scene in January.  I've joined a hiking MeetUp group and have signed up for a couple of trips, including a snowshoe trip to Mirror Lake at the end of December.  I'm looking forward to getting some outside Winter exercise.

I'm still planning on traveling to Spain next Fall, and a couple of friends have offered to help me practice Spanish over the next several months.  I'm ordering Rosetta Stone in December! 

Right around the corner is a fun trip to Chicago.  My friend, Vincent, the satirist and playwright who visited me here in Portland recently, has a play opening up soon in Chicago, and I've decided to treat myself for my birthday by traveling there to see it!  I'm going for four days, and plan to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, which is my favorite of all the art museums I've been to, including MOMA and The Met in NYC.  I can't wait to see the Impressionists again!  I'll never forget my reaction to seeing Old Man with Guitar from Picasso's Blue Period, either, so will look forward to saying hello to that old friend.  And I plan to try and see the Thorne Miniature Rooms while I'm there, since I've been told they are amazing (and I've been shown, too - Scott took some wonderful photographs of them while he was there.)  I just read that they are decorated in holiday finery during the festive Winter season.

I will also be eating dinner with Vincent, his wife and some of the friends he wants me to meet one night.  It will doubtless be a lovely evening.  I will also most definitely hit the Southside for some blues while I'm there. Kingston Mines, here I come to lose myself in your backbeats and soulful guitar riffs!  Maybe I'll check out Buddy Guy's Legends again too.  And I'll certainly ask the locals where to go.  My hips are aching to swing already!

The hotel I'll be staying in is a beautiful old hotel on the Miracle Mile, called The Inn of Chicago.  It was a real star attraction in it's day, favored by guests like Judy Garland, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra among others.  It was also the home to the Chicago Press Club Headquarters from 1960 to 1978.  Today it has it's same old great looks, but has a very modern feel inside.  I hope I like it, but really, I won't likely spend much time there anyway.  I do look forward to seeing the Miracle Mile and all it's holiday decorations, and I might go across the street to ice skate at Millenium Park.  And although I've already taken care of our some of Christmas for the kids, I'm looking forward to finding something special for each of them in Chicago.

I could chatter on about other good things too, and even some things that are challenging, but I have to get focused here today and also have a meeting.

 The main thing I wanted to say is that life is good!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Very Own Star

My charming, funny, kind, intelligent, strong, athletic and completely beautiful oldest daughter turned 11 today - and I feel myself wanting to freeze time right here and now.  She's beginning to blossom into a young woman, and I want to keep my little girl for a while longer. I simply adore her.

Stella has been a real joy in my life, and I have been awestruck by her from the very beginning.   From the moment she was born, she wanted to engage the world around her, her big, blue eyes looking intently at everyone even as she drew her first breath.  I almost can't remember a time when she couldn't talk, because she so wanted to communicate with and understand what makes people tick from babyhood on. 

Intensity.  That's a character she had and still owns.  And it's always been a good kind of intensity.  Intensity balanced with compassion and a helpful spirit.  She also has integrity.  You can see both traits in everything she applies herself to.  This probably most noticeable when she competes in sports.  She's the girl out on the soccer field with a hungry look in her eye and a drive that's evident in every aggressive angle she cuts out there, going after that ball and looking ahead several plays to the goal.  She puts her heart and everything else she's got into the game.  But she is always fair and always a great sport, and she's a leader who supports and encourages her teammates. I'm continually amazed by her presence of mind and her intuitive ability to bring out the best in people around her.  I am ridiculously proud of her, even though I have very little to do with who she is.  She is just herself, as we all are.  I can only nudge her toward her best self, and hope I don't mess her up somehow in the process.

Stella is the child that's eager to please, but who has enough confidence in her own inner voice to question things when necessary.  She's got heart and spunk.  She's balanced.  I say that all the time, but she really is.  The world is going to be her oyster, yet she doesn't take a single bit of her gifts and good fortune for granted.  She strives constantly to follow a good and right path, and to deserve the positive feedback she gets from people nearly every day of her life.  She's got the perfect mix of humility and self-confidence.  I hope she never loses that!

Sometimes I can be a little hard on Stella.   Because she has always been so easy to reason with and has been such a great kid and so eager to please, and so driven toward truth and goodness, that I am easily startled by her human slip ups and her occasional cranky moods, and I can react harshly.  I selfishly expect more out of her, and she gets an occasional overly harsh tongue-lashing from me.  I feel so badly when I do that.  It's unfair to hold my young daughter to standards I can't even meet myself.  I always apologize, but there is irony in that.  Stella has usually already forgiven me and she apologizes too.  She's the calmer head of the two of us by a long shot. 

My lovely daughter is simply an amazing person.  I'm blessed beyond measure to have her in my life.  And I've named her well:  Stella Claire.  This translates from the Latin roots to mean "Bright Star."  And that, she most certainly is.