Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Score One For The Old Guy...

I arrived home from picking my son up from school yesterday to see a small priority mail package for me on the table. I didn't recognize the return address, and I didn't remember ordering anything off the Internet. So my son and I were very interested to see what was in the package. Had to be a surprise from someone, right? And oh, were we in for a surprise.

Inside the package wrapped up in brown paper lay about 5 pairs of suspenders in all colors, red, navy blue, tan, black, white. You know, the kind of suspenders OLD MEN wear. Now, this confused me for a minute until I looked at the packing slip and saw that they were ordered and sent to me from my father. In the next 5 seconds these thoughts went through my mind: "Why is my dad sending me suspenders?" "Oh crap, Dad read my blog." "Oh super crap, Dad knows about THE INCIDENT." "Oh crappity crap, I hope he didn't tell mom." "CRAP, Mom knows!"

Apparently, my dad read the previous post on my blog. I found out later my sweet husband assisted him in reading the previous post. So after these thoughts went through my mind, I began to laugh. My son asked me why his grandpa was sending me baseball suspenders. I then told him that Grandpa had read my blog about my pants being too big and was trying to be helpful. My husband saw the suspenders and laughed. My son said "Score points for Grandpa, that's really good!" And I have to admit that of all the comments I have received on my previous post, this has to be the best and most funny. My dad is really creative, and it's apparent where I get my sense of humor from. So score points for the Old Guy, he got me good.

Oh, and:

Dear Mom,

I have since purchased both undergarments and new jeans that fit. Problem solved. But if anyone needs some suspenders....

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Can't Believe I'm Posting This...

Blame it on lack of sleep or lack of Starbucks, but I am posting this very embarrassing moment against my better judgment, so you all better get the appropriate amount of enjoyment from it.

So in the last 5 months (since May) I have lost quite a bit a weight. (I'll post about how I did it in a future post if anyone is interested.) I have gone from a size somewhere between an 8 and a 10, to a size somewhere between a 2 and a 4. It has happened so quickly, that I really haven't had the time to go shopping. And none of my clothes fit me properly, as you can well imagine. So what is required is that I wear a belt with all my jeans and my shirts are just baggy. What I didn't expect however, is that NOTHING would fit anymore. This would include my underwear. Which brings me to the topic of the day. Can I just say that wearing underwear is extremely important? Can we all agree on that?

So last month I had a day where I had several errands to run. I was getting dressed and was frustrated at the fact that my underwear had become so loose that it refused to stay put where it is supposed to. This had been going on for several days and frankly, was driving me nuts! Now, two of my close friends who SHALL NOT BE NAMED regularly eschew underwear and go on their merry way without the hindrance of proper undergarments. It is on these two that I blame this whole episode on. They often tease me for my steadfast adherence to wearing underwear. So on this very busy day, I decided that I was not going to be driven crazy by saggy panties! No sir, I was not! So I grabbed a pair of jeans and a tee shirt and hopped into my husband's jeep, footloose and fancy-free, to run my errands.

And in my joy, I forgot one thing. A belt for my two sizes too big jeans. You see this coming don't you?

I think it is important to mention that in my day job, I am the assistant to the founder of a fairly large and well known Christian ministry here in my hometown. Lots of people know my boss, and lots of people know me only as his assistant.

So my first couple of errands went smoothly, and I was feeling good. Even treated myself to Starbucks. And then I made it to the parking lot of a well-know discount store chain that SHALL NOT BE NAMED. Now this particular box store is right down the road from my house smack dab in the middle of my neighborhood. Every time I frequent this store, I see someone I know.

So as I am stepping down from the jeep, I drop the car keys onto the ground. I simply bent down to pick them up. And that is when it happened. My disgrace. My humiliation. Yup, those too big jeans with no belt to assist in holding them up, slipped right down off my bum. My bum, that was devoid of proper undergarments. I quickly forgot about the keys and yanked them up. I cannot say if anyone saw or not because I grabbed those stupid keys, jumped in the jeep and got the heck out of there faster than you could say "I'm calling your mother!" I drove clear across town to another of those nameless stores and carefully exited the jeep, hanging on to my pants and the keys. I've never shopped so fast in all my life!

Needless to say, that was my last time going commando. And that was the last time I forgot a belt too. I called both of those friends and laid blame squarely at their trouble-making feet. Darn them, and shame on me for being so duly influenced. Dog-gone troublemakers! Of course, I still love them. I just don't take all their fashion advice to heart. And so far, I haven't heard of anyone I know actually witnessing this episode, so I think my job and reputation are still safe. At least until someone reads this and decides to share. But that's ok, as I can fully laugh about this episode now. It was over a month ago, and I've moved on. I just made sure I was dressed appropriately when I did!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cold Weather, Colder Mood

This week the weather finally turned from summer to fall. I had to break out the Ugg boots and my jackets, sweaters and scarves. Although I love the comfy warmth of my Ugg boots, they necessitate the removal of my beautiful heels and flats. I was hoping to have a transition time between the flip flops and the boots, but alas, it was not to be. Drat! I could sacrifice warmth for fashion, but I just haven't been in the mood to lately. I think it is the result of sitting out in the pouring rain last Friday at the football game. I hate being wet and cold, and it put me in a mood! I am hoping to get out of it soon, as I have some really great heels just waiting for me to take them out for a walk!

So this has been an "off" sort of week. There is much going on, but I have learned that I probably should process things through before speaking or blogging about them. Just because I can eviscerate them in print, doesn't mean I should. The pen truly is mightier than the sword and sometimes the writer is the one who gets wounded the worst. So we will save that for another day. But the guilty should remember my commitment to revealing truth and outing them. Truth always comes to light people. And with that, I am off to find me some Starbucks!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Because Awesomeness Is Learned....

I want to take this opportunity to give a shout out to awesomeness. (Yes, that is a word. I dictionary.com'd it) Awesomeness is not something that you are born with, contrary to popular belief. It is a skill that is developed through a commitment to personal growth and to becoming a better person. It is also developed in the learning of skills and obtaining of knowledge that we then share with others. Awesomeness must be shared, otherwise it isn't awesomeness at all. Awesomeness by it's very nature is the expression of giving back what you have been given. At least, that's my definition anyway. And since it's a subjective thing, I can feel free to create my own definition. So there. It's my blog, I can say what I want. (That was the bratty 3 year old in me rising up.) Awesomeness takes many forms and today I want to give a shout out to those around me who I consider purveyors of awesomeness. And if you don't know these people, you will just have to take my word for it that they exude awesomeness.

First up (and in no particular order) is my friend Liz Carey. Liz has always exemplified awesomeness to me for reasons FAR too many to mention here, so I am going to highlight just one today. You see, Liz and I are both people who suffer from health situations that (after long journeys and many doctors) have drastically changed our lifestyles and now we both follow mostly raw, vegan diets. But what makes Liz literally drip with awesomeness is that she is a researcher. She reads books, searches the Internet, talks to experts and then (Here is the truly awesome part) she posts her findings plus recipes and "how-to's" on her blog. Which is helpful to me as she lives about four hours away. If I have a question, I check her blog first, and then if my question isn't answered, I call her or text her or email her and she sends me what I need. Folks, it doesn't get more awesome than that! Seriously, check out her blog which you will find here. Even if you don't eat raw, try some of her recipes, they are delicious.

Secondly is my friend Sarah Sumrall. Sarah is the single most creative person I know, and being in the arts, I know a lot of creative people and Sarah tops them all. First of all, she's a hair stylist by profession and she can rock pink streaks and blue streaks and make them seem totally normal and beautiful in a way that I have never seen. And if that weren't enough, she sings, plays the piano, draws, paints, juggles. (OK, made that last one up) She also sews and creates her own unique clothes using a method I can only describe as the Frankenstein method. She buys clothes from thrift shops and then chops them up and makes them into new pieces that look totally cool and hip and unique. And she uses that same method with scraps of material to make these awesome purses that are just the coolest things! She is planning to sell them someday, and when she gets an Etsy account (which I am so trying to talk her into) I will post the link and you all can see her awesomeness for yourself. She also has drawn out and designed my next tattoo. I gave her a random unspecific idea of what I wanted and she thought about it and designed something that is truly representative of who I am and my heart. Now that's awesome!!!

Next up is my friend Nicole whose awesomeness can not be measured or described by words. She cared so much about me that she not only gave of her own time and energy to help get me healthy, but made a way to hook me up with someone who had answers and solutions. I am healthier today than I was 5 months ago. I am living nearly 100% pain free for the first time since 2001. And I'm happier because I feel better. Nicole fought for healing for me, and that is the mark of the most awesome of friends. She never took no for an answer and she supports me everyday in my lifestyle changes and encourages me to keep going when it is tough. And she does this in spite of the fact that we live about 1,100 miles away from each other. Yup, awesomeness is defined in her. I know that someday we will be old and gray, sitting in rocking chairs knitting (because she has asked me to teach her) annoying our children's children by assaulting them with tales of how we used to dance hip hop with "stank faces". And they will think us so uncool. But we will know better.

All these women are very different, but they have a couple of things in common that increase their "awesomeness" factor. Firstly, they are all generous and kind in nature, willing to serve their friends and share of themselves. And they all consider me a friend. I'm not an easy person to love, but these three love me. That is awesomeness right there!

Also counted among the growing ranks of people who possess awesomeness:
Marsha, who shares my love of books, writing and lattes.
Meredith, who puts recipes on Facebook, and taught me about redemption.
Jacquie, who considers me her sister and taught me the importance of shoes.
Betsy, who challenges me and my opinions and keeps me "real".

There are many more, but this post is getting longer than I intended it to be. (I didn't even get into the men in my life who are awesomeness personified!) My point is this, if you want awesomeness around you, first pursue awesomeness yourself, and then appreciate awesomeness in others and tell them that you do! Tell them often. There are too many people in this world who pretend to have awesomeness but are really selfish and vain and all about themselves and what you can do for them. Awesomeness comes from a heart to love people with receiving nothing in return. (Although people who possess awesomeness do like to receive a thank you and an encouragement every now and again.) Awesomeness is birthed by love and kindness and generosity and those are traits that must be cultivated and practiced daily.

So practice some awesomeness today!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mother, May I?

My youngest turned 16 recently and obtained his driver's license. It is strange to think that I will never again chauffeur a child to and from school every day. That has been a responsibility of mine for so long that I find myself a bit freaked out at the extra time I have to get ready in the mornings. But mostly, I miss the rides to school in which my happy-go-lucky kid would sing and dance along to the radio and make me laugh. Being so NOT a morning person, he made my mornings a bit more bearable. We would stop for lattes and have great conversations. I now am struggling with feeling disconnected from him. Who knew I would take to motherhood so well.

You see, when I was younger, I insisted to anyone who would listen that I was never going to have children. Growing up in a family with complicated relationship issues made me not want the addition of someone elses needs in my life. I was purely out for myself, as most people in their teens and twenties are. And then I unintentionally got pregnant. And my life changed. I have raised two boys, (and helped raise my step-son and daughter) and although it has not been easy, it also hasn't been that bad either. I can honestly admit that I enjoy being around my kids more than anyone else in the world, except my husband. Especially now that they are all grown up.

I can look back and see the impact I have had on them that was not intentional on my part. My step daughter has a few mannerisms and ways of speaking that I know she got from me, as most people who don't know that I am not her mother will tell me how alike we are. I find that funny. My youngest son unfortunately shares my tendency to be unfocused and "flighty" at times. We both share an amazingly strange sense of humor that most other people don't understand. My older son inherited my generosity, my tendency to give other people everything I have even when I don't have it to give. He also has my tender heart, which has caused him much heartbreak that I wish he hadn't had to go through. Although there were things I intentionally tried to impart to them, (keep your room clean, don't lie, don't swear, finish your vegetables) it's the unintentional mannerisms that catch my attention the most these days. I don't look at the past years and see the things I didn't accomplish, I just see the memories that I didn't fully appreciate at the time.

I have been irrevocably changed by being a mother. I am softer, wiser, and probably funnier because of how my children have raised me. When you feed them brussel sprouts and two of them throw up and one cries the whole time like you've just murdered their kitten, you develop a sense of humor quick! But the biggest change has been my appreciation for my own mother. When I was younger, my mother and I did not get along so well. You see, those complicated family issues caused me to judge her and insist that she didn't understand me. But being a mother myself and raising teenagers opened my eyes to just how difficult it is. My mother did the best she could under the circumstances, as we all do, because, let's face the facts, we are not given a handbook for raising children that reads "If this happens (insert crises here) do this." I judge my mother less harshly and I appreciate her all the more for the woman that she is. We still disagree and I am convinced that there are things about me that she really doesn't understand, but she loves me, she loves her grandchildren, and for 50 years, she has loved my father. And she is a better woman than I used to give her credit for. Someday, I hope my children will say the same for me. That I loved them with all the love that one person can be capable of, that I appreciated them for who they are, and that when the chips were down, I was there for them. That is what makes motherhood fulfilling to me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sinuses, Sabers, and A Car Named Agnes...

So I was sitting thinking about what to write about this week. I have been struggling through some sinus headaches caused by allergies, and haven't been able to concentrate very clearly. So, I was a little worried that writing would be a bad idea. So I chose the safe route for updating. After all the drama of late, I figured I would just talk about what has been happening this week. It's been a week full of surprises and some really good laughs. A welcome change to last week.

So, most people know I used to be a dancer. And that I taught professionally for years. But about 5 years ago, for reasons to many and to complicated to mention right now, I quit. I didn't dance. I didn't teach. I didn't choreograph anything, save for a piece for my friends Corey and Meredith's wedding. But that was an extra special exception. So earlier this year, I felt ready to get back into the dance game, and held auditions for a new crew to work with. It has been slow. I've had some false starts. Last week, I had zero dancers. By Sunday, I had one. By Monday afternoon, I had four. Four amazing, talented, gifted dancers. Dancers who were quite game, and able to throw caution to the wind and create a piece to be done this Sunday. A piece set to music that can only be described as Beethoven on acid. A piece that includes sabers (swords) and flags, and some serious kick butt moves. And after two rehearsals, I am more excited to debut this piece than anything I have ever done professionally. So if any of you are around this area on Sunday, you might want to see this. It even marks my return to the stage, not that I really wanted it to. But I am training up a dance army so that I won't have to be dancing much longer. Really super excited about this, although I have had to dance and work with sinus issues, which makes simple pirouettes very difficult. The only thing I am sad about is that my friend and fellow dance warrior, Nicole is in Denver and won't be here to see an idea she helped shape finally come to life.

And in the funny but true category, we now have a car named Agnes. You heard me right, Agnes. Agnes is a teal green 1996 Ford Mustang that we gave to my youngest son for his 16th birthday. He and his friends were talking at lunch one day and the subject of car names came up, as his friend Nate had named his car Helga. That's right, Helga. See, these kids decided that girls have to give their cars boy names, such as his friend who named her car Vladimir the Impaler. (Of course, it's an Impala) So the guys decided that you couldn't give your car a normal name like Chelsea or Brittney. That would be too obvious, right? So instead they came up with names like Helga, Kitty, and of course, Agnes. My son explained to me that a Mustang has to have a tougher name, not one that would be girly. He said if a guy dated a Helga or an Agnes, you know that he'd be the quiet one in the relationship. "Really Mom," he says "a Helga could beat the crap out of you. I would never date a Helga. Helga and Agnes are most likely Swedish body builders."

Of course, this makes absolutely no sense to those of us over the age of 18, but it is quiet funny. That's what I love about my kid. He makes me laugh just by being him. So now we have a car named Agnes. Just another normal day in Collins-ville.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

You Won't Believe Me, But It's All True.

I am not a hero. But today I wished for a red cape, a sword, a badge... something that would give me authority to stop the madness that was going on around me. It is unbelievable the things that happen to good people in this day and age. I would not have believed this story had it been told to me. But since I was there, I can attest that everything you are about to read is absolutely true. I have changed the names of my innocent friends, but I am naming each and every one of the evil doers in hopes that they are humiliated and humbled by their behavior today. I cannot save the world, but I can and will print the truth!

Let's begin this tale at the beginning. I have taken the liberty to edit details which are either unimportant or too lengthy to explain. I have these friends. Let's call them Donna and Steve. They are good people. Married in the last two years, they found themselves, and the beginning of their marriage, facing what many in this country have faced in the last year. Unemployment and mounting debt. Donna was married before and was raising a beautiful daughter. Steve is about 5 years out of college and just building his career. Right before their wedding, Steve lost his job and it took some time for him to find a new one. Not unusual since we reside in the local that President Obama has visited many times because of the high unemployment rate. Because of this, they found themselves in over their heads in debt, like so many around these parts. This is not a crime. This is a result of a falling economy that NONE of us has control over. They did the only logical thing they could do to keep feeding their daughter. They filed for bankruptcy.

They did it the right way. They filed Chapter 13 because they wanted to have integrity and pay the debts that they could as best they can. I was around while they made this gut-wrenching decision, and I know exactly how hard this was for them. They are choosing to give up their home, as they have an opportunity to rent a house owned by some other friends who recently moved out of the area. But they needed to keep their cars. This is where my story begins.

Under bankruptcy laws, once you file, your property is protected, at least until there is a hearing. So here we go. Hang on kiddies, the ride is about to get really bumpy. The following is not for the faint of heart.

Donna had a van that was purchased and financed through Ford Motor Credit. Write that down. Ford. Motor. Credit. Now, they called said company and informed them that they had delivered all the necessary information to their bankruptcy attorney and that the case would be filed in a few days. Said company rep responded with a "No Problem, Ms. Donna. You just let us know when it is." Because what we are all taught is that if you keep the credit companies informed of where you are at, they will work with you, right? Well, that's what we all believed once. But like Santa and the Easter Bunny, oh baby, is that not true.

August 12th, 6 pm. I receive a text message from Donna stating that both their cars, which were parked on the street in front of their house, were hit in a hit-and-run. Steve's truck is nearly totaled, while Donna's van just sustains a broken tail-light. No one hurt, but Steve's truck will require major repairs and be in the shop for possibly two weeks. The insurance company provides Steve a rental and they decide to wait until the truck is back before Donna will get her taillight fixed.

August 14th, 2 am. (2 am, people. Like, really, 2. AM.) Donna and Steve are awoken with their dog going crazy, the door bell going off, someone pounding on the door and a very frightened daughter crying. They through on clothes and answer the door to find two repo men there with Donna's van already on their truck. They were kind enough to awaken my friends and ask if there is anything they want to remove from the vehicle before they take it. Now, I don't know about you, but how many of us are really coherent and functioning on all cylinders at 2 am? Night watchmen don't count. I'd like to say that my friends were probably 100% nicer than they should have been. Even the repo men thanked them for being so nice. They took everything they could see out of the vehicle and handed over the key. They told the repo men, representing Bull Dog Repossessions, that they filed bankruptcy and that they would be calling the next day to get the car back. These two fine upstanding employees informed my friends that the car would be on the local lot and even furnished the phone number for them. Then, having done their job, they went away and left my friends to try and figure out how they were getting around the next day with a rental car that Donna is not authorized to drive.

August 14th, 7:12 am. Donna texts me and asks if I can pick her up early to take daughter to school. Since we had planned on taking another friend to the airport and then go to lunch together, this was no big deal. It was when I picked her up that I heard the entire story. Needless to say, she spent a lot of that day on the phone with her lawyer and after the airport we ran around obtaining documents needed by the lawyer to get the van back. Please note, this is a Friday. The lawyer is unable to get everything together and so the van will not be returned until next week. I tell my pal that I can help her get her daughter to and from school until it all gets worked out. (Yes, she is THAT good of a friend that this is something I don't even think twice about.)

Enter Monday, August 17th. Hold up on the paperwork. Gonna be one more day.

Enter Tuesday, August 18th. One more day. More paperwork to do.

Enter Wednesday, August 19th. Paperwork almost done. Steve gets Donna's name added to the rental so at least they can share a car.

Thursday, August 20th. Paperwork is completed. Donna calls the local office of Bull Dog Repossessing and tells them that her lawyer will be faxing a release to them first thing in the morning and they will be coming to get the van. Office girl is so nice and friendly, no problem, and we'll see you tomorrow. Isn't she sweet? Nope. Oh, and Steve's truck is fixed and they pick it up and return the rental.

So enter Friday, August 21st. Steve and Donna spend the morning signing papers at the lawyers and then Steve drops Donna off with me cuz we both have errands to run and plus, we like hanging together. Everything appears to be great. We do some banking and she tells me that they are picking the van up later that afternoon as soon as the lawyer calls and says they have faxed the release. 1 pm - Enter the bad news. After keeping the lawyer on hold for a half and hour and then talking to her for 20 minutes, the demon-spawn office girl sweetly informs the lawyer that they shipped the van to their Chicago facility that morning. That morning! After they had been called by Donna to inform them that it is being released. The van was supposed to remain on that lot for 10 days. And said van is also at this point, protected by bankruptcy laws. Very SPECIFIC laws. Something shady went on there, don't you think, kiddies? Why would a reputable company like Bull Dog Repossessing violate bankruptcy laws and ship a van that they already know is being released back to the owners that SAME day? Oh, it gets way better. Poor lawyer spends the rest of Friday calling and screaming at reps from Bull Dog Repossessing and Ford Motor Credit who right away admit the mistake and PROMISE that the van will be returned first thing on Monday. The problem is that we need an appointment to pick up the van from where it has been taken. A lovely place called Greater Chicago Auto Auction. We need an appointment. To pick up a vehicle that rightly belongs to us and has been taken illegally. I have yet to understand that one.

So instead of picking up the van on Monday, we spend it waiting for the lawyer to get us an appointment to go all the way into Chicago to pick up this van. And it takes ALL day of her and every other lawyer in her office yelling and faxing to get anyone at these three honorable and reputable companies to cooperate. Again, the names are Ford Motor Credit, Bull Dog Repossessing, and Greater Chicago Auto Auctions.

And instead of picking it up on Tuesday, we wait again for Greater Chicago Auto Auctions to agree to release the illegally held vehicle to its rightful owner without forcing said rightful owner into paying for storage and transport fees for a vehicle that was illegally transported and stored. Is your head spinning yet. Take a deep breath because now we get to the events of today.

So myself, my darling selfless husband and my friend Donna take a drive to the Chicago area. I acted as moral support, my hubby as security. We were on a mission. From God. First, we have to stop in Dyer, Indiana to pick up the license plates that were removed from the vehicle. Unlawfully removed. Want to know where? A place called Krazy Kaplan's Fireworks. Uh huh. That's what we thought too. Turns out that Bull Dog Repossessions shares a building with them. So we get there right after they open and request the plates as the lawyer had instructed us. Donna held out her id and the guy in charge of the yard, Greg (who looked like the one mustached and bearded guy from MythBusters, only dirtier and skinnier) proceeded to look for the plates. He pulled out this big black plastic milk crate full of plates. Yup, that's what I though too. Plates were not in there. Plates were not in the building, even though the main office of Bull Dog Repossession had guaranteed us that they were. After an hour and a half, it became apparent that we had to go to the nearest BMV to apply for replacement plates. At Donna's expense.

Now the nearest BMV is in the opposite direction, in Merrilville. Google sent us to the wrong place, as they had moved a few months back. A kind local woman gave us directions to the new place. Which was 5 miles further east. Once at the BMV, miraculously, there was no line. I got overly excited about this, only to be dashed 2 seconds later when the clerk told us we had to go to the police station to file a report first. Oh, and the police station? 5 miles west back where we came from. So we go to the police station and you know, they didn't even care when we told them who lost the plates. Bull Dog Repossession. Then back to the BMV we go. Plates are obtained for 10 bucks and then we are off to Greater Chicago Auto Auction, about 30 minutes away.

So we get there, and all this time Donna has been told REPEATEDLY by her lawyer that all she needs to get the vehicle is her id. Her lawyer and the bankruptcy trustee are both planning to file suit against all three of these companies. As well they should. Grand Theft Auto Is A Crime. While we are there, this very scary woman behind bullet proof glass slides a release form at us. It states that Donna releases Ford Motor Credit and Greater Chicago Auto Auction from any can all claims she may have against them. We call the lawyer. But here's the thing. If she doesn't sign it, she cannot get her car. Period. End of story. The End. Of course the lawyers don't want her to sign it, but since she signed it under duress, it's called coercion and it won't hold water in court. I was a witness and so was my husband. These people are not honest, good, and definitely NOT part of the Great American Car Company that Ford would like you to believe.

Now kiddies, if you are still with me, and not fallen on the floor in disbelief, here's what I want to say about all of this. Yes, my friends got into financial difficulties. We all do at one point or another and it is not a reflection of who they are as people. Because they are good people. They have to be to hang out with me. It's a personal requirement for all my friends. Did they deserve to be treated like this? No. They did the right things. They talked to Ford Motor Credit. Ford Motor Credit promised to work with them. Ford Motor Credit even ADMITS that the car should not have been repossessed. Do I fault Bull Dog Repossessions? Partly. They also were called and communicated to every step of the way. They should have never sent the van out of town. Especially since they knew we were coming for it. And Greater Chicago Auto Auctions? That place is scary. They move cars in, strip them and sell them before anyone gets a chance to recover their property. It's a legal chop shop. In fact, the guy who brought the van around to us even said to Donna, "You got good timing. We were just about to take it to the body shop to strip it." To strip it on the day they knew we were coming, after they CALLED us to say that we could pick it up any time after 9 am. WHAT!!!!! I imagine most people don't take the time or the effort to recover their property. I mean, after what we have been through, it wouldn't surprise me.

And that, dear children, is how you can legally steal a car.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One Should Never Blog While Tired.....

It feels like I have done NOTHING in the last two weeks but run, run, run. I am exhausted and a bit grumpy. I have found that a certain amount of solitude is necessary for writing, and I have not had a great deal of it recently. Therefore, no new posts and no progress on the book. (To be fair, I am at a slight impasse with the book. I wrote myself into a corner and haven't figured out how to get out yet.) I love my family and have great affection for my circle of close friends, but I am finding myself in need of a break, not just during sleeping times.

I think this is the situation with most people really. We fill our time with work and try to slip in the appropriate amount of play. And when you have a family, sometimes they have legitimate claims on your free time that require you to be at certain activities not of your choosing. Just the way it is. The trap most of us fall into is not recognizing that we need time alone, and that time is just as important as the time spent working, with family and friends, and in general socialization.

I don't want to sound sexist when I say that this is a particular problem for women. It's just that being a woman myself, I am more familiar with the issues that women face. I talk to my girlfriends, and I am sure they would agree with me. (Especially Nicole. Girl, this one's for you.) We tend to be the nurturers in relationships and most of us fall readily into the wife and mother role and put of children and husbands needs above our own. This is a double-edged sword. It is good that we embrace the roles that we have chosen. We SHOULD nurture our children with love and dedication. We should support our husband and meet their needs as they meet ours as well. But we also need to give great importance to regular time alone. Time to be quiet and think. Time spent away from other people. It refreshes our soul.

Now, my husband might point out that I spent two hours at the salon this week getting beautified. That does not count. Activities like salon visits, trips to the store, and driving around running errands do not count as times of solitude because during those times, there are other people around, and your mind is preoccupied with the tasks at hand. True solitude is being completely alone, or in an environment where talking is frowned upon, like a library or prayer room. Or a coffee house or bookstore with your iPod on. (That trick works wonders to keep people from approaching you!) You can add an activity like reading or listening to music, but only if you prefer. My friend Marsha likes to write during her times of solitude. I sometimes read, sometimes write, and music is always involved. These are things that nourish us and help us process through. My friend Dana likes to have music on and sing and dance. (Something she insists to me is better done with no one around.)

My point probably could have been made 4 paragraphs ago if I wasn't so tired. I need to schedule regular times of solitude. It must be of the same importance as work, my husband, and my kids. Because solitude keeps me grounded, sane and happy. And when I am grounded, sane, and happy, so is my family. And my work gets done quicker and with a more cheerful attitude. My friends get to enjoy a girl who cracks jokes and sees the humor in ever situation, not the grumpy gus I have been today. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Nicole, Marsha and Dana would agree that this is a necessity in their lives too. I feel confident in saying that most women would agree. I think some men I know might say "Yeah, I need that too."

So your challenge for this week is to find some time of solitude and refresh your soul. If anyone disagrees with you, send them my way. This is an argument I know I can win!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

She Really Is Smart. Really.

I have been suffering lately from what I like to term "Well, Duh" moments. I'm sure that most of you have had them too. They consist of moments when you speak before you think, are unintentionally unobservant, or just aren't thinking. They are embarrassing to say the least, but often, if you possess a fairly healthy sense of humor, usually end up being funny. At least, I think so. Yes, it's humor at my expense, but really, everyone needs a dose of humility every now and then. It's good for you. So here are two examples of my recent "Well, Duh" moments for your reading pleasure. Feel free to laugh out loud. I can't hear you.

Moment #1: My husband and my son love classic cars. It's a guy thing, and since we own a 55 Chevy Bel Air, I try to keep up. I try to know the names of all the "muscle cars" and point them out if we drive by one. Recently, my husband and I were driving home from running errands. I saw a car and the first thing that popped into my mind was the word "duster". So I asked my husband, "Is that a Duster or a Charger?" (I thought Charger because that is a car I sort of know.) My husband says to me very quietly, "Well, considering it's a Chevy, that would make it a Camero, baby." And then he busted out laughing. And of course he told my son the minute we got home. Yup, haven't lived that one down yet. Now when we pass cars, I keep my mouth shut real tight.

Moment #2: Electrical appliances do not work if you do not plug them in. I have done this twice in one week. Both times I wasted effort getting frustrated and yelling at the machines, only to discover that they won't turn on when not plugged in. Yup, my food processor has been called "idiot" and "stupid machine." Think that ought to apply to the operator of said machine?

So anyway, enjoy my "Well, Duh" moments and feel free to post some of your own. Like I said, it's these moments in life that build humility and character. And we can all use a little of both.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

After a sad, strange day....

When I woke up, today was much like any other day. Alarm went off too early, and as I slowly began to prepare myself, the biggest concern on my mind was what on earth to wear. Today was our one year anniversary in our new building, and we had planned a very special celebration service. So I wrestled with the idea that I should wear a skirt, even though my desire was to be comfortable in jeans and flip flops as usual. And then I received word that Rob, our 19 year old bass player, had been struck by a car and killed instantly on his way home from the county fair. Suddenly I was not as concerned with what to wear. I immediately went into "Bob's assistant mode" and began calling the people that I knew needed to know this information before they walked into the building. (It is not fun waking people up in the morning with bad news. It kinda sucks.) While I am relaying the news to the pastors and gathering the information that Bob asked me to gather for him, I am stunned. Rob is the same age as my son Collin. My youngest Max, had seen him at the fair yesterday. It was hard to get ready for the day while knowing that the worship team was devastated and still had to lead worship.

We arrived at the church and I did my best to continue with the responsibilities I have every Sunday. As I typed out the order of service, I knew that it was merely a suggestion, so I put on the bottom that Bob could change things at any given moment, and for everyone to be flexible. Silly me. About 10 minutes later, as we were sound checking the band, everything went dark. The power went out in the entire building. We found out later that an entire grid was out of power. After one minute of looking at each other dumbfounded, I said to Ed and Kris "Well, this is a game changer." We all sprang into action, moving a grand piano into the auditorium and grabbing acoustic guitars and the hand drums. Thank goodness for the emergency lights. They gave us just enough to be able to see our way around. One phone call to the amazing Alice got us enough candles to light the entire front of the stage and enable the musicians to see their music, and Bob to see his notes. Nothing was going to stop us from service today, however hard it was. I watched the worship team as Bob announced the news of Rob's passing. I watched my good friends Eric and Betsy cry. Eric had been mentoring Rob, teaching him the things he needed to know to be a worship leader. His passing hit him hard. In the midst of all of this, I really felt that God was doing something that we could not understand. There was a reason for the lights being out. Michael, another worship leader had stepped up to play bass for us today, even though he had planned to take the Sunday off. But we all knew that God didn't want anyone else playing bass today. As He would have it, the power stayed off all through worship. The lights came back on right as Bob was praying for the offering. I don't think that was a coincidence. I think it was all part of the grand plan for today.

Rob was a great kid. In all the conversations that I had with him, he was polite, funny and a joy to be around. He knew he was called to be a musician. He gave up a full ride scholarship just to play bass in the church. He wanted to play worship music, and he did. In my lifetime, I have known many famous musicians. Big names all. However, Rob was more mature than any of them. He had a gift and he shared it. Shared it in the truest sense of what it means to share. He didn't merely want you to hear him play, he wanted to share with you the glory of the music. That is what truly made him stand out. It wasn't about him, it was about Jesus. He understood who gave him the gift and he used it for God's glory. The lights went out and we had one of the best times of worship I have ever experienced. Rob would have loved it.

So I sat outside today, quietly crocheting. I needed something quiet to do so that I could process the events of the day. I am not one who cries, I am one who seeks understanding for why things happen. One of the things that occurred to me is that you can plan and prepare for things, but when the lights go out, you better have lots of candles. (God Bless Alice!) I know many who work in the media and I wondered what they would do if the lights went out. What would the politicians do. Would it mess up their plans? Because someday, maybe soon, the proverbial lights will go out, and if we are not prepared, then we too will be set into a panic and fall away from the things that really matter. Like our faith. Our belief. And there may not be an Alice to help us.

So my thoughts, though scattered, can best be summed up by this. Don't get so caught up in the day to day, in what you will wear, in what you will say and do. Remember to use your gifts to the glory of the one who gave them to you. Listen to those who try to mentor you. Be humble. Seek out the truth tenaciously. Cultivate your faith unceasingly. Strengthen your belief. And always be prepared for the lights to go out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's A Sacrifice, I Know.....

I have been craving two things for about two weeks now. One is sushi. Specifically spicy tuna rolls. The other is Indian food. Curry sauce. Yum. I actually dreamed I was eating Indian food last night. It's crossing the line between a simple craving and a full blown obsession. And the only obsession I have time for is shoes, as we all know.

So, I know what you are thinking. "Girl, just go out and get some and stop your whining." And that really would be the solution now, wouldn't it. Like I'm not smart enough to know that? I know this. There's a problem with the simple solution. The problem is most commonly known as ... my husband.

Now, before we examine this problem up close and personal, let me state for the record that I love my husband. I adore him. He is the most wonderful man. I find no flaw in him that I can't make a sacrifice for. So, that said, let me delve into why I can't indulge these two cravings at the moment.

My husband and I have loads in common. Loads. We hardly ever even notice our 10 year age difference. (He's older, thanks for asking) We have a lot of fun together. It's partly why I married him. But when it comes to food, we see things very differently.

I love ethnic food. All kinds of ethnic foods. I am an adventurous eater, all though I don't do crazy foods like cow tongue or deep fried bugs. My husband doesn't do ethnic foods. In his mind, the only acceptable Italian food is pizza or spaghetti, the Mexican he prefers is completely Americanized, a la Taco Bell, and he orders chow mien at Chinese places, which really isn't Chinese at all. I stick to a mostly raw, mostly vegetarian(leaning toward the vegan)diet while his favorite food is steak and white potatoes, preferably deep fried. Do you see the dilemma here? Do you understand now what I am dealing with?

Now on Monday I made the suggestion that we visit a local eatery that features really excellent sushi. On Mondays they offer it at half price. Good suggestion, right? Wrong. The response I got was: "Why? I don't like sushi." Now had I suggested we visit the local steakhouse, the response would have been something like: "Hurry up and get your shoes on already!"

So here is my point, although I took a long time to make it: Marriage is a sacrifice. You have to have give and take and you don't always get your way. It's the beauty of the sacrifice that makes the relationship deep and special. I think if more people gave up what they wanted for the other person, less marriages would end in divorce. A simplistic view of a complex problem, I realize, but if only people could see this going in. You see, I will eventually get my sushi. And I will continue to visit steakhouses and order salad. While I find my husband's aversion to ethnic foods a bit funny and something to tease him about, I respect his choices. And he respects mine. That's what makes our marriage work so well. And that is what makes my life work so well. However, I will have to wait for my next visit to Denver to see Nicole before I will get my Indian food fix. It's a sacrifice, I know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Life at that certain age.

We all have that number in our head. You know, the one that we think when we reach it we will be officially old. It's different for everyone, but I think it is safe to assume that it falls somewhere after the 29th birthday. It arrives long after the "yippee, I'm an adult" euphoria of the 18th birthday and the "Awesome, now I can drink" partying of the 21st birthday. It definitely comes on the heels of discovering that life is not all bubblegum and roses. It is mundane and boring and (here's the real shocker) average.

So I reached one of these "milestone" birthdays recently. And I was fine with it until about a month before. That is when I realized that the world in general believes that a woman of "a certain age" is irrelevant to her community and culture. Let me explain.

You see, we here in America live and celebrate a youth oriented lifestyle. We celebrate the young and carefree. Our celebrities are either young up-and-comers, or women who dabble in diets and plastic surgeries to appear years younger than they really are. You rarely see women in their 50's taking lead roles. (Diane Keaton excluded) It is the exception, not the rule. So you see why suddenly I felt not a whit glamorous or fabulous anymore. Fashion was suddenly being dictated to me by girls who can't remember the 80's excess or the real problem with 70's disco pants.

This to me is a big tragedy. Why is it that we celebrate these kids who haven't learned yet that relationships should not be temporary and that there is more to the world then owning a D & G purse in every color of the rainbow. I want to hear from women who refuse to buy into the lie that Cinderella's life is the one we should covet. I mean, really, every princess should eventually transform into a wise queen who governs her world with compassion, kindness, modesty and restraint, thinking of the well-being of those she loves more than herself. Where are these women and why are they keeping silent? That is the question of the day.

So my birthday epiphany led to a resolution. I shall not remain silent in this world that insists that I should live quietly and raise my children and grandchildren and not make a scene. Nope, I will make a scene. Me and all my "irrelevant" friends who also share this "certain age." We will shop for the latest fashions that WE deem acceptable. We will go out for dinner and talk as loud as we want and laugh as much as we want. We will close out any dance floor near us just because we like to dance. And we will laugh at all these silly teens and 20 somethings who believe that they own the world. Oh, silly girls, don't you see? We do.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Welcome to the new....

So here it is, the new blog. For those of you who were fans of the old blog, you may not like this one. For the few who hated the old blog, you may find this one drastically different.

"What's changed?" you ask. Well, me, basically. After years of being a "yes" person and doing the right things and saying all the right things and pleasing all those around me all the while hiding what I really thought, I hit the end. I have fully decided to embrace being me, flaws and all, and finally report on the world as I see it, whether you like my opinions or not.

So, if you want to know what I think, follow along and feel free to comment. If not, well, stop visiting this site. We will miss you. Maybe.

So if you have read all this and are still with me, a new post is coming tomorrow entitled "Life at that certain age." See you then.