Archive for the ‘family’ Tag

More Great Than Awful

So much of life is a mixed bag of great and awful. If we’re lucky, they balance, break-even. If we’re really lucky, the great outweighs the awful, at least at a micro, day-to-day level. I am fortunate that there is a lot more great than awful in my life and the magnitude of awful has been fairly muted of late.

I try consciously to remind myself of that and to celebrate the great, however small they appear, so as to temper the impact of the awful. I’m not always successful. Sometimes the collective weight of the tiny awfuls adds up and weighs down my spirit. But counting the great, saying them out loud even, can sometimes lighten the load.

For instance, I’m suffering the first head cold of the season and had to stay home from the office yesterday because I was running a fever and didn’t want to spread anything to my coworkers. It’s a particularly inconvenient time for this awful, mucous-y disruption to my work flow. But there are some great things happening too.

  • I’m in the process of buying a new house. It’s a gorgeous, move in-ready upgrade to the house I’ve had for 16 years. I got a great deal – used my negotiating skills and have a great realtor. We’re in the last stages before closing and I’m really excited about the prospect of this new phase of life.
  • There’s a new project at work that has me feeling re-engaged and excited to use my lawyer muscles. Doing deeply substantive lawyering, rather than business management, makes me happy.
  • I’m enjoying the cooler fall weather and looking forward to the freeze that will relieve the burning and itching in my eyes.
  • My SIL brought me my favorite soup for dinner last night to make my cold feel better.
  • Soon the holiday movie season will start and there will be good things to watch again.

So, all in all, a fairly good tilt toward the great and away from the awful. For that I’m grateful.

Vague Booking

So I’m a tad late to post. Most of the reasons for that are awesome, although I also have been fighting a bout of writer’s block. I’m not ready to go into all the details, but suffice to say I have been busy with other things and that’s a great reason to be a teensy lax here. Without context or explanation, here are some things from the last couple weeks that have me smiling:

  • IRL socializing is not as terrifying as I feared
  • Spending time with friends, old and new, fills my spirit in the best way
  • Paying it forward, in ways large and small, to help a friend or a friend’s friend gives me hope
  • Being seen, especially when you think you are invisible in one or more dimensions, is both scary and uplifting
  • Getting a push out of your comfort zone can land you in an exciting place
  • Chatting via text and video is a fun way to make connections and feel less isolated
  • Compliments that feel genuine are an exciting new experience
  • Smart, kind, quirky, fun and lovely new people are the best!

I’m smiling and looking forward to a lot of new experiences in the next few days and weeks. This is a great feeling. I hope you have something to smile about and look forward to, also. 😎

Working on Making it Permanent

So, I’m back to the real world from vacation. It was a blissful reprieve and a truly wonderful experience.

This vacation was lengthy and expensive. It took over a year of planning and saving, some hefty cajoling of one of my brothers, and an unprecedented amount of preparation and working ahead at my job in order to be absent for two consecutive weeks without doing any work. But, oh my, was it worth it!

Foremost among the riches of this vacation is the quality time spent with my siblings. I believe this trip is the longest that my brothers, their wives and I have spent together in over a decade. It was a relaxed, congenial time full of comfortable conversations and silences, fun activities, and restful breaks. And it was free of tension and drama and negativity. It was the best of all worlds and I’m grateful we had that time together.

Also a big part of the benefits of the experience are the memories and mementos of our epic adventure. I so, so enjoyed every part of the cruise. Exciting new experiences, great food, majestic scenery, and so much fun! The excursions were great.

We went to a gold mine in Juneau, where I braved my fear of small places and being under ground and ventured all the way to the first bend of the main shaft – several hundred feet into the mountain! That’s a huge thing for me. I did turn back when the shaft took a turn and I lost sight of the daylight. I couldn’t brave it out beyond that point. But I got to wear a real miner’s helmet, see some awesome 100+ year old equipment, hear a cool story about miners’ lives in the 1800’s, and view some great historical structures. I even got to pan for gold! I think I ended up with about $0.80 worth of flakes and a million bucks worth of fun!

Then there was the glass blowing excursion in Skagway. That was huge fun! The Jewel Gardens park is gorgeous and has what the guide called “Jurassic-sized” everything growing there. The little tearoom on site serves food using vegetables fresh from their fields. And the working glass hot shop is a beautiful addition to that lovely place. My family lucked out and were the only ones booked on our particular excursion there that day. Three of us got a private glass blowing session with a wonderful, talented and friendly blower named Alex. He helped each of us make a customized globe ornament as a souvenir of our experience. I just received mine in the mail yesterday and am so excited it turned out so beautiful!

Perhaps my favorite part of the trip, though, was a day when we didn’t get off the ship. Our day’s transit through Glacier Bay was amazing! The sight and beauty of that place was awe inspiring. I’m so thankful that I got to experience that glorious place!

There were many more little things that made the trip so wonderful. Little moments of joy (the fleeting glimpse of a baby humpback whale breaching off the stern and showing its fluke as it dove) and quiet moments of togetherness (sitting on the Lido Deck breezeway teaching my brothers to wire-wrap gemstones for incorporating into jewelry) made my experience all the richer.

In fact, I got so much more than the beautiful memories and lovely mementos from this vacation. In the process of letting myself enjoy my time away, I seem to have remembered how to sleep. I think I have slept longer and more restfully in the last three weeks than I have in over a year. And I haven’t missed out on anything because of it – the sleep has come when it’s supposed to and I haven’t had to choose between a rest and anything else (like an activity or a chat with a friend) since my vacation began. I’m so glad!

And, also, plus – my relaxed, no-f*’s-given attitude has persisted into my post-vacation approach to life and my workplace. The light-touch, advise-and-release method of crisis management that I described in my last post is holding up to repetition. I have, so far, been successful in keeping myself from taking on the burdens rightfully belonging to others, without shirking my own duties. This more balanced, rationalized, right-sized sense of responsibility is so much more sustainable and easier to bear.

Oh, I know what you’re gonna say! “It’s only Tuesday of your first full week back, so maybe go easy on the glowing new-me reports?”

Agreed. Time will tell if this post-vacation glow lasts. It won’t last forever, I know. But with concentrated intention, maybe I can make it last until the next vacation. Even if that one isn’t the epic, bucket-list-level experience of this Alaska Cruise Adventure vacation, perhaps the more mundane variety of break from the work-a-day world will combine with the residual afterglow of this extraordinary experience and become more permanently etched into my psyche. Who knows?

What I do know now is that I feel better after this vacation and I’m working on making that a permanent state of affairs.

Back in the Saddle

Ok, this is gonna be a quick one. I’ll try to do a more substantive, curated trip report on my epic Alaska Cruise Adventure soon. Right now, here’s what I need y’all to know:

  • I not only survived, I positively OWNED vacation with ZERO work content. I looked at no emails and I firmly body-checked the two sneak attacks by text message to my personal cell – punting them directly to my boss! (How’s that for mixed sports metaphors!?)
  • My bucket-list-level vacation was everything and more than I’d hoped it would be. Travel was easy (apart from the mandatory public groping by TSA), weather was nice, scenery was majestic, excursions were fun and memorable, and family time was fun and refreshing. (A very few of the many, many pics I took, below.)
  • I returned to my office today to find well over 350 emails accumulated, despite my thorough preparation of all my clients and stakeholders for my absence. The very first one was a hair-on-fire call for help fixing someone’s mess. I stiff-armed that right back at them with a minimum of guidance and a goodly amount of “suck it up, buttercup”-type tough love. I really like this feeling of freedom I get from not wearing other people’s problems for them – could get addicting!
  • To avoid the risk of tempting the universe to chastise me by being too smug and glow-y in my post-PTO euphoria, I will admit that I have yet another stye on my left eyelid. It is sore and irritated. It started last night when I mentally began preparing for reentry to the real world. I do not find this coincidental; rather, I firmly believe the two are causally linked. Perhaps I should test my theory by going back on vacation. 😉

I hope you have all enjoyed your summer since my last post. And, hopefully, the rest will be filled with (not too hot) sun and fun. ☀️😎

Anticipation of Relaxation

I’m officially on vacation! Yesterday was travel day, in which I flew to Seattle to meet up with the fam ahead of our epic cruise adventure. My brother kindly fetched me from the airport and we drove to his home a couple hours away.

It was the smoothest, easiest, least stressful travel experience I’ve ever had. Because my other brother had taken my checked bag with him and his wife in their motor home for their drive out here, I only had my backpack to worry about on the plane. Got a Lyft to the airport and my bro’s comfy pickup on the other end, I had no transportation responsibility. I just rode, flew, rode again, and arrived at my brother’s home. Easy.

Now we have a rest day. Tomorrow is sailing day, but we have no obligations today. This is definitely a good thing. I know I’ll appreciate the rest when we start the festivities tomorrow, which will be at once fun, exciting and stressful. Yet I always have trouble with this part, the waiting.

There’s something to be said for the pleasure of anticipation. Often, pleasure is increased with a little bit of delay. But for those of us, like me, who are chronically impatient, this caesura is kinda nerve-wracking. Not because I’m not enjoying being with my siblings and not because I don’t like just hanging out. I’m just not very successful at stilling my mind and find myself thinking ahead to the next day, the next action, the next agenda item.

I guess I’m not very good at vacation.

But I’m sooooo happy to be here and I am sooooo stoked for the cruise. I’m anticipating that, being a self-contained experience, with plenty of time to do nothing but simply relax together will make me better at it. 😎

Here’s to learning to be a slug! 🐌

All the Good Stuff

So it’s Tuesday again and I’m posting another really quick update. I’m riding a wave of happy positivity right now, friends! Here’s some reasons why:

  • It may be Tuesday, but it’s my Friday – last day of work before a looooooong stretch of leisure time!
  • That leisure time will include a bucket-list-level Alaska cruise and some deep quality time with my siblings. It all starts on Thursday!!!!
  • I heard yesterday morning that one of my lesfic stories has been selected for publication next year in an anthology put out by Bold Strokes Books!!!! OMG, y’all!
  • My first ever casting in my silver smithing class was a huge success. I’ve de-sprued and ground and rough polished. Cloth wheel polish and patina when I get back from vacation.
  • I remembered to post today!

Have a great week, friends! I’ll see about posting while I’m on the road…er…sea! 😎

It Begins

So now it’s real. I have the ol’ R2D2 suitcase out on my bed. I’ve gathered clean laundry and my suits. I’m selecting bow ties. I’m remembering the Dramamine. I even have my flip flops in case there’s a poolside situation.

I’m packing. That makes it real. I’m going on a cruise!!!!!!!! Excitement awaits.

I’m hopeful that there will be connectivity along the way. But if not, I’ll post a few extra times when I get back to make up for the missing posting goals.

Enjoy your July!

Aimless Drivel

I guess I jinxed myself by calling out the inadvertent posting pattern of Tue/Fri in my last post. Because I clearly missed posting yesterday. Ugh.

Yesterday was a genuine s@$&t show of a work day that sucked all my energy and taxed every nerve. By the time I got home from work I had no reserves left for writing. At least not writing blog posts for an audience.

I did get to spend some quality text time chatting with a new friend. Their attention and banter and gentle humor took my mind off my troubles. I count that a great blessing, having the freedom and security to talk about things that matter, but are so distanced from the sources of stress in your lives that the conversation is just for the pleasure of conversing. Not having to solve each other’s problems, not being burdened with the weight of responsibility and just being able to discover little facts about each other that add detail to the mental picture you’re each building of the other – these are the kinds of conversations that make making friends fun.

Today was the first day of a five-day weekend for me. My company observes Independence Day tomorrow and Friday as company holidays. But my boss and his EA staged an ‘intervention’ Tuesday in the doorway of my office, declaring that I was too stressed and spent plenty of hours doing work that shouldn’t have landed on me and that I needed to take the extra day off for my own good. My boss was insistent, even though I pointed out that I have extended PTO scheduled to begin a week from today. He just said “good, this will be practice for your time away”. I’m not entirely certain if he meant practice for me to relax, or practice for my clients and employees to get on without me. Both, probably.

So I was lazy today. Read an ebook in the cool and quiet of my empty house, napped and then went to a movie before meeting my family to run errands and have dinner. It was a good day.

The rest of my pre-vacation vacation time should be just as chill. Reading, writing, laundry, packing for the real vacation, and at least one dinner out with friends should consume the time nicely. Might even brave the heat and go watch fireworks tomorrow night. Then only two days of work before two weeks of freedom!!

I’m looking forward to the vacation. Family and I are going on an Alaska cruise. It’s beyond exciting. I can’t wait to fill up my cloud storage with pics of wildlife, landscapes and family silliness. I’m a tiny bit nervous about the boat – never been on a cruise ship. It should be the experience of a lifetime.

Well, that’s all the aimless drivel I have to share. At least I’ve saved my weekly posting streak, if not the recent posting pattern. I’m worried that there won’t be connectivity on the cruise and I’ll miss my weekly post while I’m away. Dunno why that matters to me so much, but it does. I guess because I set the goal and have been successful in meeting it for so long, it seems a shame to let it break. Ah well, for this reason? Worth it.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the holiday, if you’re celebrating. If you’re not celebrating, I hope the proliferation of noise and smoke doesn’t disturb your summer evening. 😎

A Fitting Experience

While I’m taking a few days off work this week, I’m taking the opportunity to take care of some personal errands. As you do. It’s not a glamorous use of vacation time, but it’s necessary. But today was a majorly cool experience.

My big gift for Christmas this year was a gift certificate for a custom made suit. My brother and sister-in-law gave me this gift for a couple of reasons. First they know that I don’t like shopping and don’t often spend a lot of money on myself, but would do both if given a nudge like this. Second, it’s something I’ve been talking about doing in preparation for the Alaska cruise our family is taking this summer. So my SIL went with me to be measured and have an initial fitting today.

I’m a bit of a nervous nelly when it comes to clothes shopping. The task has been fraught with stress and anxiety for me for my entire life. As a child, it was almost a war between me and my mother over what was “appropriate” for me to wear. I rebelled against anything “girlie”, which she felt was the only look fitting for my gender. As I got older, the experience became even more excruciating when size stigma was piled on top of gender discomfort, as well as being constrained by cost.

But since I attained a level of comfort (financial as well as gender identity), choosing masculine clothing exclusively, I’ve felt better about myself and the shopping experience. Yet even with that relative ease, shopping for clothes has still been a tense experience. So I anticipated that today’s activity would be as well.

I’ve never been happier to be proven wrong. Today’s experience was the most comfortable, gender-affirming, fun shopping experience I’ve ever had. My sister-in-law had prepared the way by talking to the stylist ahead of time, warning him that I am easily embarrassed and don’t like to shop.

It worked, because he greeted me by name and with a smile and firm handshake. He treated me with dignity and attention to detail, careful to discuss with me how he needed to touch me, asking my consent first. And he was carefully discreet with my measurements, which was so important to me. He even joked with me when I said I needed to be sure they wouldn’t add girl darts to the jacket that would give me cone boobs. 😜

It was so positive that I ended up ordering two suits and will likely add at least one custom dress shirt, as well. I’m surprised at how excited I am to have clothes made specifically for my non-standard body. Makes me feel pretty good, I have to admit. And that I’m going to have them in time for my 50th birthday is also really cool. I can’t wait to sport some custom fashion!

Happy Holiday

I had a really wonderful Christmas Day, spent with some of my family and supplemented with texts and calls and emails from others who couldn’t be with us in person. My brother, sister-in-law and I surprised my niece and her son by showing up after pretending we couldn’t make it. It was the first Christmas in their new home and it was fun to be a part of that celebration.

Being together, enjoying each other and the gifts of love and laughter shared was amazing.

It’s all too easy to take those things for granted and prioritize the material gifts of the holiday above those essential interpersonal blessings. I am certainly guilty of that. But seeing smiling faces, getting hugs and joy from these precious people, brought that lesson home to me this year more than in recent years past. And that’s a wonderful gift, too.

Whether you have or are celebrating any holiday this winter, my hope for you is that the rich blessings in your life be made evident and you celebrate the gifts of the loved ones in your own hearts.

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