Thursday, December 30, 2010

Balance and a Perfect V

I feel so good today.  I wrestled with some personal demons last night, and came out victorious.  I enjoyed a playful online interaction with my 12 year old niece yesterday evening, and that helped bring some joy back into my heart, and remind me of what's really important to me in my life.  Laughter is a very good and healing gift we humans have!  It lifted me out of my dark mood and helped me find some equilibrium.

I'm content with work here at year-end, too.  I started out so strong this year for the first half of the the year, and then had a very disappointing 3rd quarter in sales, which was tough on my confidence, and my pocketbook.  Things were difficult and financially tight as the kids were starting school.  It was a tough time, which happened when other difficult changes were happening in my life.  Included in the difficulties were some significant changes at work, which I had to adjust to.  I felt so off-balance and flailing at a critical time coming into this last quarter of the year.  For many reasons, including my own lack of focus, I just didn't see myself having the monster 4th quarter that I typically have and that I needed to hit my yearly numbers. 

I'm proud to say that I went deep into myself and addressed  some issues which were causing me to lose sight of my goals, put them to rest.   I was able to stay relaxed, calm and confident in my abilities - to close out the year strong!  I easily hit my quota for the year and am now over my 4th quarter quota and made it to the yearly bonus number as well.  I still have one last deal coming in today for another $24K.  I'm sitting pretty and feeling good about having some money to put into the bank.

As important to me as the revenue I've been able to generate for my company and make for myself and my family, are the relationships I've built and the way I've conducted myself in my dealings.  It feels good to help them, knowing that we will be a great choice to help them improve their business, but also to know that I can negotiate deals that feel good for us all.  I am much better at standing firm when it's important that I do, and I've earned the respect of my clients in the process. 

One of the best things I've heard all year was when a CEO of a firm who recently purchased our software after an intense negotiation, called me to tell me a couple of days ago, "I have enjoyed doing business with you, and am looking forward to a long relationship between our companies.  I want you to know that you do good work and are an asset to your company."  It made my week to hear that from a man who came to this country with nothing and found great success.  All the work that I've put in the be more self-directed and to rely less on my boss's feedback to know I'm doing well has paid off, and this new client's gesture was for me a symbol of my newfound confidence in myself.  He spoke to me with respect and with warmth, and it went straight to my heart.  All the money in the world would not make me happy, but to earn a living, while also helping people and developing good relationships - that completes the circle for me, and it's no wonder I almost never wake up thinking, "I don't want to go to work."

Just as I was sitting here thinking on the year's ups and downs, and my own failures and successes, feeling content that I'm still able to find some balance while striving to grow and better myself, I looked out my window to see a perfect V formation of geese flying just slightly above me, but very close.  I could see the colors of their individual feathers.   They were equidistant from each other - and just perfectly aligned.  It was a beautiful sight.  I've never seen a more perfect looking formation of geese.  And then, as they flew into the distance I saw them regroup, losing that perfect line in the process. 

Just as I know those geese in transition will achieve a perfectly balanced formation again, I know I will falter and  regain balance again myself.  This coming year will be filled with tears and laughter, darkness and light, good times and bad - and I will be able to find  balance overall.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Timely Message

If you want to find someone weaker than you, I guarantee you will find them. But to use them as a reason to be weak yourself... well, doesn’t take any effort to be less than what you are. ~John Fowler, "Last Ghost in the Graveyard"
A dear friend posted this as a status update on Facebook today.  It stopped me in my tracks, because the message stabbed me in the heart. 

I am not at peace and am struggling mightily with myself.  

My plea:

Help me take the high road, and avoid the ditches.
Give me patience and support me in my efforts to be gracious and humble.
Help me stay present.
Help me be strong.

Please - help me be my very best self.  I'm feeling far from it right now.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve Meditation

It's hard to believe it's already this time of year again.  My children are dressed in their new jammies, as is our tradition on Christmas Eve, and are now in bed, hoping to fall asleep easily, so they can hurry up and wake to a magical Christmas morning.  I've still got a few items to wrap, and tuck under the tree before I head off to sleepy land myself to try and get some rest before enjoying their glowing faces over my coffee mocha and peppermint in the morning.

I'm a little tired right now, since it's been a long week of 12 hours work-days and then last minute shopping each evening, but I feel peaceful and calm tonight. Besides the hubbub of the commercialism of modern Christmas, I've also been witness to a true miracle recently when my friend's fiance came back from near death to be able to be able to raise and nurture her infant daughter with him.  I'm still wrapped up in the wonder of it all, and can feel my love for everyone and everything radiating outward. I hope I can stay here in this space for a long while.

While sitting cross legged wrapping presents on the tile floor of my cool bedroom in the daylight basement of my new house tonight, I found I can distract myself from the chill and my sore hips by naming and ruminating on the recent goodness in my life.  My recent trip to Chicago was an absolute treat. It's a beautiful city, filled with outstanding architectural specimens, great music, wonderful theater, art and a sense of community that's surprising for such a large place.  I loved it there.  The people were so warm and friendly - and so down to earth. If it weren't for the brutal winter weather and the lack of mountains, I'd consider moving there someday.  As it stands, I'm happy to make a few more visits if I can!

Most special to me about that trip was the chance to extend into a deeper relationship with my friend, Vincent and his wife, Jennifer.  I really like both of them very much, and I feel I've moved past an online acquaintance and into a more meaningful friendship with Vincent, and that is more valuable than anything else to me.  People matter, and the more people I can love and be loved by, the richer I am.  I'm grateful and humbled to have such wonderful people as my friends.  They make me smile and I feel hopeful for what else is in store in this life.

If it weren't enough to grow in friendship with Vincent and Jennifer, I also had the lucky chance to meet their friends, the Parkers, who were in Chicago on a pleasure trip from Michigan. They were celebrating the occasion of their son, Mason's, birthday with a complete change of scene.   Lisa, Scott and their three kids are a joy to be around.  Just lovely people and an inspiring family.  They are all so respectful of one another's individual natures, and I can feel the love between them.  I understand why Vincent wanted me to meet them, and feel ever so grateful that he suggested that if I came to his play (which was fantastic!), I should come on the weekend the Parkers would be in town.  I think Vincent likes to bring people together, and he seems to have a knack for it!  I enjoy Lisa's warmth and intelligence, and Scott's gracious, calm (and calming) demeanor.  The kids were lovely and obviously well-loved.  I want to introduce mine to them, and may have a chance this coming Summer, when the Parkers, Vincent and Jennifer all plan to try to make it here to Portland for a little vacation.  There's also a chance I will head to Michigain with my kids and visit them this Summer.  We're all scheming!  We can't let this wonderful new friendship shrivel from lack of nurturing!

More recently and locally, I've been able to commune with my stepdaughter from my marriage to Ron.  Sarah and her Swedish boyfriend, Alex, came to have dinner with Ron (who came over and cooked), the kids and I last night, and I enjoyed their company so well.  Sarah has really grown up a lot and is so sweet.  Alex is warm and confident, and I feel he is a good person.  We played Portland-opoly and I took pictures of our fun time together.  It's been awhile since we've been able to enjoy Sarah's company, since she was traveling so much in the last couple of years, and was also just being an independent teenager hanging out with her friends, so it was especially nice to break bread, drink some wine and laugh with family - even extended family and a former husband.  I'm grateful that we can be civil and laugh together with our children and be loving to each other in our current lives.

When I look at these photos, I can see how much my children are growing, and it reminds me to enjoy them now, while they still want to spend time with me.  I'm so grateful for their love and their health.  They are a gift I treasure, especially when I remember to be present to what's important in my life now.  I want to go snuggle with each of them right now, but I need to finish up wrapping up their Christmas surprises.  I'll close with a few shots of their sweet faces.

So much love in my life!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Beautiful Day

The gray lifted and morning broke golden on a happy blue-sky day today, and it was truly a fitting start.  I couldn't be happier on any day as I am on this day, my birthday, and the day I heard some of the best news I've heard in a long time.  Amazing, if not miraculous news.

One of my dearest friends has been experiencing a serious family emergency this week, which came very close to being a complete and horrible tragedy.  His love, and the 28 year old mother of his 7 week old baby and first child, suffered a heart attack on Monday afternoon and went into a coma for over 24 hours.  On Tuesday, the neurologist and other medical staff shared a very poor prognosis after exhautive tests:  no brain activity

Many tears were shed, and my wonderful friend fell to the floor begging.  For those of us who love him, there were just no words to describe our grief on his behalf.  We held on to blind hope with very heavy hearts. 

Later on that same day, they allowed them finally to bring her baby into the room with her, and when that child cried, her mommy heard her and showed her first signs of awareness or existence in over 24 hours.  She woke up, even, and recognized people and could move her hands and feet.  She was not out of the woods,but this was truly a shocking 180 degree turnaround, and she's been slowly improving.  

Today, she came off the respirator and continues to show strong signs of improvement in all areas.  Her heart is significantly less swollen than when she entered the ER on Monday.  Without going into all details, here is the most important thing:  She appears (despite all odds given Monday) headed for a complete recovery.

There is nothing like a little perspective to remind you what's important in life, and no greater gift than to have your ardent wishes and loving prayers come true.  Really, there is no greater gift than love. 

 I'm extremely grateful this day.