50-48 – Jane of All Trades

Standard

When I was just out of college I got a job with the US Navy’s MWR** department as a child development associate. In order to be considered for this entry level, teaching assistant, minimum wage job, I needed to fill out a Department of Defense job application. I needed to provide ALL of my jobs and ALL of my addresses for the past ten years. As a newly minted college grad, the amount of jobs and addresses I had (a new one every semester and every summer, sometimes two) led to an application that was well over forty pages long.

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to look back on this application – yes, I have a copy in my files in the basement – in order to fill out other applications and write resumes, and in looking over I saw the plethora of different things I’d done. Upon leaving the work force to stay home with my kids, I did a number of other things that added to my job list and my skill set.

I often feel like the second half of my title’s proverb – jack/jane of all trades, master of none.

I feel less than instead of focusing on the first half of the proverb – jane of all trades – expressing my vast experiences and using the culmination of everything I’ve learned continually in my life daily.

I didn’t work until my first year in college. I lived a privileged life. I don’t believe most of my friends had jobs in high school. I didn’t have an allowance, but I had everything I needed. I didn’t take advantage and ask for crazy things, like spring break in Cancun or a European adventure. I went to the movies and the diner, and I didn’t do that every day. I did work a disastrous weekend at a delicatessen, which still haunts my dreams.

My first “job” was an unpaid high school internship in a law firm. I did all the usual secretarial/receptionist work, and got to go to court with one of the lawyers to observe. The other women in the office were very kind to me and I did learn a lot before I went to college to a pre-law/political science major.

When I changed majors two years later to elementary education, I did other unpaid internships in schools as a student teacher. I even got paid three times to substitute locally before I graduated.

At college, I worked as a Bio Research Assistant, which consisted of cleaning petri dishes and putting equipment in cupboards. I was also “campus security” for my dorm. I sat at the door overnight with another student and signed residents and guests in and out after the doors were locked for the night.

In the summers, I had an extraordinarily long list of retail and receptionist positions: Alexander’s* for inventory, Gimbel’s*, Kids R Us, Curtain Country*, Herman’s Sporting Goods*, JoAnn Fabrics,  as a temp for several offices. I also made and sold jewelry as a member of the SCA***.

In teaching, I taught for the US Navy program, a cooperative nursery school, day care at a college, Head Start as well as volunteering at my kids’ schools. As part of my teaching positions, I published parent resource newsletters.

I proctored the NYS Teachers’ Exams for several years.

I became a direct sales consultant for Creative Memories, a company that taught the techniques and sold products for scrapbooking.

I taught a tax class for other direct sales consultants.

I babysat.

I published a Travel Organizer chapbook.

I’ve been crafting this website and I think I’ve finally found a rhythm.

I’ve volunteered in ministries with my church in their adult enrichment, adult initiation rites, and day of service groups.

I wrote for a parenting newspaper, and then began to seriously freelance write. I’m currently working on two books: one on our home buying experience (horrible) and one on my travel/pilgrimage to North Wales (amazing). I’m also considering a book on my spiritual journey since I’ve begun attending church services and my conversion.

I have article submissions in process for The Sun Magazine and Vox.

So many things and most of them come back to writing.

Jane of all trades. I can use that.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

*since closed or out of business

**Morale, Welfare and Recreation

***Society for Creative Anachronism

Advent Reflection – Nov. 30

Standard

​How “immediate” is your response to God’s morning call to follow in his way? Who are the individuals, whose feet are beautiful as Isaiah says, who have brought to you the good news?

– From Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2016-17 by Bishop Robert F. Morneau

When I was first encouraged through signs to visit my current church, it was simply for a quiet place to think and to ask for G-d’s help. I didn’t know Jesus, but I figured He wouldn’t mind my using His house to speak to G-d.

There was no intention to hear a call or seek out something other than guidance, and even then I was really looking for a place to find my own guidance away from the everyday.

I sat.

I thought.

I randomly opened a missal and read a passage. When that passage was exactly what I needed to read, I cried.

It wasn’t until days later that I heard the call. Something in me had changed, and I was ready. I didn’t know it until after, but I was ready to hear it, and when it came, in bright light and deafening silence, it was astonishing.

I continued to come more often, and for anyone who reads this page regularly, it is clear where that calling has brought me.

In those early days, there were two individuals who encouraged me through their prayers and music, and through them I was able to let myself be open to the call. Ben provided the music and in his own prescient way only reiterated what I was already thinking and feeling. Tim, who is now in seminary for the Lutheran Church prayed for me and encouraged me to take that first step and attend a Mass. Things changed quite suddenly after that.

They were led to me by Jesus and He allowed me to be open to their guidance, whether any of us consciously knew it or not.

In all its struggle, that year was a blessing that brought so many more blessings.

This Advent it is good to look back at how we’ve gotten where we are, and to draw the map on our hearts to where we’re heading in the next few weeks and months.

50-47 – Niagara Falls

Standard

I can’t remember how many times I’ve been to Niagara Falls. It is the one place that I’ve been to in almost every place of my life. I went as a kid with my parents and siblings, I went with my husband while we were dating, we brought my young son right before he started kindergarten, and we recetnly went with our whole family of five.

The city iteself changes, and over the last forty years or so, the Falls have even changed, but yet, they still remain the same.

I recognize the crowded streets, the carnival like atmosphere, the bright lights, the cold spray from the Falls, the huge ferris wheel that we could see from our hotel room window.

Parking was worse this last time, and I had trouble with my knee, but overall it was a lasting memory that we will enjoy for a long time.

Standing across from the Falls, my hand on the cold stone wall that kept me from falling down the hill to the sharp rocks below. I would stand there and stare, occasionally taking pictures, occasionally closing my eyes and just standing there, listening to the wind, the water hitting the bottom. I couldn’t feel the spray from there, but I could see it.

We wanted to take the kids on the Maid of the Mist, but the boats had also changed. Maid of the Mist only docked on the American side. The Canadian had a new tour from Hornblower Niagara Cruises. The boats were red trimmed, and the ponchos were red and biodegradable. The boat was less choppy and I liked it much better than when I was a kid.

When I was a kid, I refused to go on until my family came back safe, then my Dad took me alone. Since they didn’t drown, I figured it was okay for me to go. The anxiety is strong in me. At that time, you couldn’t keep the rain jackets. They were much heavier, rubbery, and hot, so very hot.

This boat still rocked and we were drenched from going under or close enough to the falls that the spray was heavier than any torrential downpour I’ve ever been in.

Continue reading

Advent Reflections

Standard

This is the first week of Advent, the four or five weeks culminating in the Nativity and the birth of Jesus. It is a time of waiting, of searching, of journeying, always moving forward but not forgetting what and where we’ve come from.

My church gives out a small meditation/reflection book for Advent (and also for Lent), and it is the perfect size for a five minute read. As I mentioned on Sunday, it is the opportunity to either read it and begin your day or take a longer time and meditate on it, perhaps discover your own reflection.

I won’t guarantee a daily reflecton, but as I read each day’s pages, I may write some thoughts down and share them here.

This week is the first week of Advent, but it is also filled with other meaningful days: Today begins the Novena of the Immaculate Conception, the nine day prayer period that concludes with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In addition to a holy day of obligation, this is also my church’s patron. I read the prayer for the today’s first day, and will pray it each day until the feast day. I will also pray the rosary, one of the links to the Holy Mother.

We also have a series of half days from school, the penultimate episode for the mid-season of The Walking Dead, mid-season finales of all our other shows, my niece’s Sweet 16 birthday, my daughter’s winter concert with chorus, and my 50th birthday in four days.I have four more of my 50 Reflections to complete before then, and a wonderful birthday surprise to share that my family gave me this past weekend. (I mentioned some of it in my reflection called Adventure that posted on Sunday.)

Today’s Meditation Questions/Suggestions for discernment from the Robert F. Morneau book, pictured above:

What happens to your heart when you are looked at in a loving way? When you look at others is it a stare and critical analysis, or is it a childlike look of affection?
I find myself doing both the critical stare and the look of affection at various times throughout the days. I enjoy watching my two youngest children sitting side by side, one on their tablet, the other reading a book with three other books piled next to her, not fighting, not yelling, not arguing. There are even moments that we need them to do a chore or errand, and we leave them be because it’s so nice to have the brotherly and sisterly peace that is so often missing at their ages as they compete and try each other’s patience.

It’s important to be able to recognize the critical stare and sort out if it’s warranted, even in a small way. I try to pull myself back from that judgment and look away, then start again for a more compassionate thought process.

I know that with our current political climate, I am having a much more difficult time not being judgmental and angry, but I have been walking away more, and instead of 24/7 cable news, I’ve been picking a few programs for a few minutes a day to catch up on breaking news and I save important articles to read before I post or make comments. I’ve only had one breakdown/rant and I refuse to go back to where I was as a political junkie in 2012 when I quit cold turkey. I plan on being politically active and advocate for my beliefs, but in keeping that critical stare at bay, I can think more, discern more, let G-d lead, and act more.

Advent is waiting, and waiting is okay. It is the time we need to gather ourselves, both physically and spiritually to greet this new year, to collect our thoughts, meditate on what’s important, and meet Jesus in his birth. G-d will meet us where we are; we need to meet him as well, and then journey together.

First Sunday of Advent

Standard

One of the things I became re-acquainted with when I began to attend Mass at the Catholic Church was the liturgical calendar. I had never realized that just like an Asian New Year and a Jewish New Year, there was also a Catholic New Year, and it begins with Advent.

Once Thanksgiving is over, many move into Christmas mode. After all, it is the Christmas season.

There is the misconception.

The Christmas season doesn’t actually begin until Christmas Eve, the Vigil of the Nativity. The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas…well, those twelve days begin on December 26 and conclude on January 6, also known as Three Kings Day, Los Posadas, Epiphany, and Twelfth Night. That was the traditional day to receive presents. When I was involved in medieval re-enacting, we often gave gifts and celebrated Twelfth Night.

After Thanksgiving, begins the season of Advent, the time of waiting; waiting for the birth of the Christ child. Like Lent it is an anticipatory time. We reflect on the past year that’s concluded. We begin a new Gospel cycle. This is the A year – Matthew. I am very fond of Matthew. It was his Gospel year when I first joined the church and I took a great lecture series on his gospel. I learned a great deal and so I became very attached to him.

Today, our church gave out a Daily Reflection book for Advent and Christmas. This one is compact and gives you something each day to read. It takes about five minutes or so, and you can meditate longer if you have the time and the inclination. Personally, I’m going to try and sit quietly with a cup of tea while I read and reflect.

I read the Introduction and then turned the book over to read the description on the back. The blurb recommending the book at the top caught my eye, and then I realized that the blurb was written by my godmother. A surprise that brought a smile to my face.

Front of the book given out by my church for the Advent Season.


Back of the book with the description and a blurb about the author, Bishop Robert F. Morneau.


There are many Advent resources offered in paper form, online or as e-books. I will sometimes buy the e-book of whatever the book is that my church gives out so I can read it on my Kindle, only if the price is reasonable.
One of the things I love about these little books is the change and the challenge to do a daily meditation as well as the Introduction to a book that I might not have ordinarily found on my own.

The Advent wreath is up, the banners are changed, the colors are purple, the incense is fragrant. Now the waiting begins, and a new search for something wonderful on this Advent journey.

Later in the week, I will share some other resources for your Advent journey.

Adventure

Standard

I may have mentioned this once or twice already, but my birthday is next Saturday; a mere six days away, and I will be 50. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it, but I’m approaching it positively. It’s a big milestone, and I don’t want to ignore it and regret that later. I skipped having a big thing for my fortieth becuase my daughter was turning 1 four weeks later, and I wanted her to have her special birthday.

Money is still tight, but I did actually ask for something for my birthday since it was a special one – a new model Kindle. That will be next week or sometime before Christmas since we’re trying to divide the paychecks for bills and Christmas gifts and holiday festivities.

My husband has been planning a birthday surprise for today. He has been going over logistics for weeks, finally deciding on Thanksgiving weekend rather than my birthday weekend.

My idea of an adventure is getting in my car and seeing which Starbucks I end up at. The one two towns over? The one inside the Target? Crap! It’s Monday; there are no lunch sandwiches. (The truck comes on Tuesday.)

I don’t do adventure. Or really, I do it slowly and quietly, and then I congratulate myself on a spontaneity well done.

I’m also not great at not being in on the plans.

I’ve decided to ignore my comfort zone and my instincts to try and find out what’s going on today.

There have been very few clues, and I have been uncharacteristically nonplussed. I haven’t tried to weasel it out of my kids. I haven’t checked his browser history. I’ve asked no questions.

It is truly a birthday adventure. I don’t know how to dress or what jacket to bring or shoes to wear. I will check with my husband but I will probably end up wearing my favorite outfit even though I wore that for Thanksgiving a few days ago. And my boots. I love my boots.

The clues I have received are as follow:

It will be a couple of hours in the car. At least two hours from home.[I have not checked a map to see what falls within a two hour radius of home.]

We are leaving at 9:30 in the morning.

The place closes at 4, I believe.

There is no meal involved; we will have to eat afterwards.

I will need to find our camera and charge it. I’ve been told this is very important.

It was more money than he would normally spend in advance, but I don’t know how much money. [I have also not checked the credit card bill.]

I need to bring all of the family’s passports. [I believe this is a red herring to keep me on my toes, but I will still comply with the request.]

I had a dream last night that my surprise involved live turkeys, driving up stairs, Napoleonic wars re-enactment, war monuments, costumed men on horseback, Ben Franklin, but the size and demeanor of a leprechaun, Philadelphia, Canada, although I don’t know that there actually exists a place. There was also a bridge overflowing with water shaped like one of those tubing waterslides. It was frightening in many, many ways.

I’m going to guess that my dream was way off from the reality. At least, I’m kind of hoping it is.

I’m looking forward to whatever it is. I’m excited because my family is so excited to have kept the secret for so long, and for me to find out what it is.

I will post about it late tonight or tomorrow. Who am I kidding? It will probably be tomorrow.

Fandom Patriarchy – The Walking Dead Edition

Standard

I was watching The New Rockstars on YouTube, and they were reviewing Season 7, episode 3 of The Walking Dead, The Cell. They are one of the good reviewers/commentators to watch for a lot of their analysis. They have good ideas, good observations, and ask good questions to keep in mind as the season progresses.

In The Cell, we get a glimpse of Negan’s world in Sanctuary, his home base. We see the men and women who he trusts, the ones who work for points, the security, the loyalty, etc.

Make no mistake: Negan is G-d. He made that clear in the premiere episode by giving Rick the same sacrificial request as G-d gave Abraham in Genesis. I wasn’t the only one to notice this. Then there’s all the kneeling and head bowing. He not only runs the show, as he says, his is the only way. He’s the only game in town. And if you cross him, he exacts revenge. Death might be better in some cases.

In the comic books, the episode, and the New Rockstars video, there is much said about consent in having sex with the women.

There doesn’t seem to be any room for non-cis, non-straight people. If there are any, they are very firmly in the closet; at least, that’s how it appears at the moment.

One of the rewards offered to Dwight by Negan is his choice of any of the women. Except his wife, of course. Dwight can have sex with any of them, but only if he has consent, only if they’re willing.

Which sounds like a very enlightened attitude for the sociopath that Negan is.

The comments were made that the point of offering Dwight a night with his wife who went with Negan to save Dwight’s life was a way to hold it over Dwight’s head and show him who was in control. It also reminds Dwight that his wife went with Negan willingly. Kind of. So, yes, technically she consented, but really she didn’t have a choice. She was coerced. And the whole trying to get her pregnant thing with Dwight being encouraging… –  not cool.

The entire commentary is on the emasculation of Dwight where there is no mention of the continued rape of Sheri or of the other women.

It doesn’t surprise me that Negan, the narcissist would focus on the man pain and have no regard for the autonomy of the women, while at the same time feeling that he’s a good leader by giving them a false choice. I’m just not sure if this is a plot point or a latent bias by the writers to ignore the women except where they relate to the men.

I also realize that a zombie apocolypse would bring us back to basics, but I’m just not sure that the equality that women have earned is something that would just disappear overnight.

We do see women in positions of authority, carrying guns and giving orders, killing, being leaders to the men, but I have a feeling those are not the same women offered into sexual encounters as rewards for the men in authority.

If you’re offering youself sexually to save your life, or to protect your spouse and/or children, there is no valid consent. Denial would be enough to lose privileges and risk your life. Coersion is not consent.

Thoughts?