In sickness and in stealth

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It happens at the end of every summer season.  Between the concentrated efforts we all put in for the 9 weeks of our summer season, the short hours of sleep and the continual decrease in the staff roster, sickness strikes.  It is stealthy at the onset, seeming to only target one person, but the snowball of affliction slowly picks up speed as it plunges down the slope, accumulating the remaining staff members like helpless snowflakes.  Yesterday, I became one of those snowflakes.  

I didn’t feel unwell when I woke up yesterday morning but, when I greeted my dog, my usual alto voice was expressed as a baritone.  It came as a shock to us both.  I tried to get through the rest of our morning routine, essentially in silence, and made my way into work.

The three cups of coffee did nothing to negate my feeling of infirmity and, although I gave it my best effort, I eventually conceded the loss to my state of ill-health and came home.  What should have been a restful sleep, thanks to some nighttime medication, became a series of small naps interrupted by superfluous coughing spasms.

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Being sick in the summer is a truly undesirable ordeal.  I struggled through my work day again today but now find myself wrapped in a blanket on my couch on a balmy summer day.  I’m giving this cough medicine one more chance.  If it doesn’t work – it’s Hot Toddies for me tomorrow!

 

 

 

When skin gets thin

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I cannot change the moods or the behavior of others.  I can only control how I let those moods and behaviors affect me.   Today, however, was a glowing example of how that ideal can radically fail.

If I were superstitious, today would have been my Friday the 13th.  My black cat was the neighbors dog, who, first thing this morning, managed to soil, not one but, two pairs of my shorts on my way to work.  The ladder I walked under was the exit door from my house.  And the broken mirror was the negativity that continued to rain throughout the day like the shards of glass falling from that broken mirror.

I am usually very thick-skinned.   Most of the time I can deflect negativity and remain blissfully unaware of the antagonism that tends to eddy in the normally calm waters of my life.  But the vortex of that disapproval became too much.  I, without my life-preserver, was pulled under and was out of breath.

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A little positive reinforcement can go a long way.  As an adult with a great deal of life experience under my belt, I know life is unfair and the wheels can fall off the bus at any given second.   But to focus solely on the loose lug nut that made the wheel come off is negating the safe driving before that wheel fell off and the work that the bus driver had to do after its liberation to safely get that bus to the shoulder of the road.

Thick skin can actually be quite tenuous and a little praise goes a long way.   If criticism is deserved, than criticism should be administered.  But if praise is deserved, it should be just as easily passed from the lips of the people who need to say it to the ears of the people who need to hear it.

Good for the economy but bad for my temperment

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I am going to do my utmost not to turn this post into a rant, but I make no promises.

The population in our tiny town explodes from May to October.  Cottagers and tourists alike flock to our little oasis to drink from our serene waters, to sip from the fountain of relaxation and to let every ounce of their city stress slowly dissipate until they resemble nothing of their former city-dwelling selves.  This is what we are selling and this is what they are buying.

This year seems to have hit an all-time high for human traffic.   Stores are reaping the benefits of the excess numbers of shoppers, our local Foodland check-outs are all lined up six shoppers deep but I have learned to adjust my shopping schedule accordingly.

We get it.  We are not new to this phenomenon and we learn to adapt to our new routines to keep our sanity.   But there are moments that we cannot control – moments when we have to shop during the peak times and it is during these times I lose my sense of humor.

Blatant rudeness and uncaring attitudes run rampant.  You may think I am simply frustrated from working long hours and dealing with unbearably hot temperatures, but I have first-hand experience of the uncaring attitude of some of our summer guests.  My latest encounter today prompted me to vent write this post.

I pulled into the liquor store and was shocked to get a parking spot without having to wait.   I noticed three carts left on the sidewalk in front of the store, collected them and returned them to their rightful place inside the store.  Wine in hand, I moved to the tills and the line moved quickly.  I was lucky to get in and out without incident.   The woman who was parked beside me had just loaded her box of goodies into her BMW SUV and lifted her cart up over the curb, leaving it on the sidewalk.  I got into my car, made eye contact with BMW lady and then she and I both watched as her cart slowly rolled backwards, tipped over the curb and landed on my front bumper.  Not missing a beat, she slid her vehicle into reverse, no apology, not a shred of remorse, backed out of her spot to head back to her restful vacation spot.

Shopping Cart Walk

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I could feel my blood pressure rising before the color of my cheeks betrayed me.  I got out of my car, checked my bumper and wheeled her cart back in to the store to avoid having this happen to another car.

These are the people who frustrate me.  These are the people who make me believe that, to them, other people just don’t matter.  I may have ranted in an earlier blog and received many varying comments, perhaps rightfully so, but my rants are justified.  Ask yourself how you would have reacted in that situation.  For me, I would never have left the cart in the first place but, I would certainly  have jumped out of my car to make sure the other vehicle had not sustained any damage.

Rant over.   What would you have done?

 

 

 

 

The red pen

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My writing has become the focal point in my life.   So much so that I have been consciously willing to share a few of the chapters of the novel I have so carefully crafted with a select few who will unabashedly share their opinion of my writing.  It is a big leap of faith and one I needed to make to get over my fear of rejection.  Turns out, it was (thankfully) much less painful than I anticipated.

A very endearing couple recently checked into the lodge for their third visit.  We were making small talk about how they would spend their week and she gushed about the trilogy she had brought with her to read.  We talked books and authors and I blurted out that I was writing a book.  After giving her a brief outline of the plot, she seemed intrigued.  I took the first step off my cliff of fears when I asked her if she wanted to read some of it.  My second foot followed off the cliff when I actually printed a few pages and timidly handed them to her.

Her excitement completely contrasted my feeling of nausea.  She left with my soul on a few pieces of paper as I sat in my office, slowing curling into the fetal position, wondering what I had just done.

Hours later she came back to the office with a smile on her face that I have yet to define with words.  But what really grabbed and held my attention was the red pen in her hand.  For those who embarked on their scholastic careers before technology took over, the red pen was a symbol of doom and I began a staring contest with the inanimate object.

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Her voice circled around my head as I tried to pull my gaze from that red pen.  A few of her words burrowed into my brain, slowly connecting with the tissue, and my heart almost stopped when I heard “Mel is a retired English teacher”.  It was over.

But then it wasn’t.

After going over a few corrections which made complete sense to me, the red pen no longer felt like a threat and became something else entirely.  They were entertained by the plot.  They enjoyed the phrasing of my sentences and they were captivated enough to want to keep reading.  That red pen was the prophet that delivered the word “love” beside two of the lines that they enjoyed the most.

Somewhere during our conversation, that red pen became the pump that reinflated my confidence.  It didn’t say ‘you failed’.   It screamed ‘keep going’.  Thank you Jean and Mel for the kick in the pants I needed to climb back up the cliff and get ready to take that leap over and over again.

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Embracing the sum of my parts

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I’ve learned a few invaluable truths over the last four (plus) decades of my life.  Each stage our lives requires a different version of ourselves.   We grow, we adapt and we transform.  Slowly and steadily we become the person we need to be for the next phase of our lives and, perhaps without knowing it, we evolve into the person we need to be to acquaint ourselves with the person we shall finally become.

I can look back at my life and recognize the divisible parts of myself, the bits that have led to the present sum of who I am today.  I may still resemble a modicum of those versions of myself but the me now compared to the me then are vastly different people.

Through each chapter of the syllabus of me, I have gained a confidence that I only once professed to have.  I have finally gotten to the point in my life where my opinion matters, if to nobody else than, to myself.  I have reaped the rewards of struggle and adversity.  I have calmly assumed a new sense of who I really am and I am very selective with the friends allowed behind my strategically built walls.

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At this stage in my life, I have truly become the sum of my parts.   I have taken the best bits of myself, learned from and discarded my errors in judgment and created the person I am now.

Would I change anything from my past?  Perhaps.  But if all of those equations – the fractions of time, the roots of my problems, the addition or subtraction of friends and family – meant that I would not be who I am today, I would probably answer all of the test questions the same way so I could calculate the same remainder.

 

 

Nothing compares to u, v, w, x……

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It’s been seven hours and fifteen days……okay, that may be a slight exaggeration (and a very cheesy song reference) but it feels pretty close to the truth that I have just faced.  I looked at my blog posts for the last 27 days and I have posted 6, a measly 6, blog posts during this 27 day period.  I have never been this bereft of creativity since I began my blogging journey.

And once those two words settled into my brain, I felt the familiar pull I feel when I write.  Calling it a blogging journey doesn’t really do it justice.  It doesn’t truly encompass the creative path that I have carved for myself since I became a member of the WordPress writing community.  In this world, I have discovered many who share my passion and I have uncovered a deep part of myself that was grossly underutilized.

We all find things that give us a sense of freedom, moments that we can savor the state of true abandon from reality.  Writing gives me that indulgence.  It permits me to leave the rest of the world behind and go where the words take me.  Nothing does compare to the pleasure I get when I tune out my inner critic and just let the words say what they want to say.  Writing is the one thing in my life that I not only give complete freedom to but also allow it honesty without the constraints of censorship.

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And although I know considerable chunks of time have seeped into the cracks and pushed the chasms of my imaginative spurts further apart, I continually stand on the precipice of inspiration, ready to seize any opportunity that the writing Gods see fit to send my way.