Sunday, October 22, 2017

Bracelets and Hulu

When I was a newspaper reporter on my beat (for my two friends), I ripped my left ear lobe. Maybe because I wore gold hoops a la Belinda Carlisle whenever I could or maybe because I was always on the phone getting a scoop (again, friends who know who they are). The moment the hole ripped through my left lobe was uneventful in that there was no blood or pain. It just tore down. I actually had not worn earrings in a few weeks because I knew the tear was forthcoming. So, it ripped. I had dinner that evening at the Elite Cafe with my friend Robin. He is a huge guy. Former Baylor defensive lineman. He screamed when I showed him. I received some satisfaction in making that massive football player squirm.

Then, I said, bring us more rolls. Remember those? How many could we eat and did eat? Bread, gluten, carbs, who cared? We needed those rolls. And, the butter on the rolls. Did Joanna and Chip get that recipe? Will those rolls appear at the new Elite Cafe which won't be named the Elite Cafe?

Since those days, I've cut down on pre-entree bread and butter and experimented with clip-on earrings. Oftentimes, too clunky and heavy. At other times, not cute. I've lost many because the clip loosens and well, they just fall off. 

I gave up on the earrings a year or so ago. I didn't want to mess with them anymore. One day in my future, I will fix my ear. Until that happens, I choose to stack on the bracelets. 

I buy bracelets as souvenirs from trips and vacations. I own green bracelets for Baylor games. (By the way I'm watching us lose our sixth game of the season. This is so hard. I hate losing. I hate not winning a game. I hate that we only scored one touchdown in this game. I hate this season. If only my bracelets were like Wonder Woman's magic cuffs to block passes and knock tacklers out of the way.) I have some bracelets that belonged to my grandmother and my great-grandmother. I also have a copper bracelet from my granddad.

Stacks of bracelets.

For Lee games, I wear a silver bangle that belonged to my great-grandmother, a red suede bracelet  with a sturdy sterling closure and some little trinket of a bracelet that is red rope with a silver cross. No earrings, but I've some cute bracelets.

My charm bracelet is another treasure. It's full of James Avery charms. Some came off dangle rings I had as a pre-teen. Others have been gifts through the years from G, Chris and friends.

I passed the love of bracelets and the need for a James Avery charm bracelet to my girls. Their charm bracelets are as distinct as they are and each charm represents something special about them. They also have a jewelry box full of bracelets -- some from vacations, some as gifts. We also have quite a few of those little rubber bracelets. I try to toss those out from time to time, but they seem to find them in the trash and put them back in their jewelry boxes.

This month is a busy travel month for work. The beginning of the fourth quarter marks a time where the people I coach are wrapping up the year and simultaneously, planning for the upcoming year. The conversations are long and intense. I hear frustration and hope wrapped up together in their comments. I sense a weariness along with the success achieved. They have a responsibility of helping their team members improve skills and achieve goals. They feel the accountability. When I sit across from them either at a conference table or a chair in front of their office desk, I see the stacks of reports and paper work. I notice the handwritten notes and completed forms.

Stacks of work.

When I get a bit tired of the travel and the quick Starbucks protein pack meal grabs between coaching sessions, I fiddle with a bracelet I wear for travel. It's a hook bracelet with two charms. G gave it to me when Chris was born. There is a little shoe charm that represents Chris. When the girls were born, G gave me a charm that is two little girls holding hands. 

I wear it on every work trip. I wear it a lot. The night before a work trip, I lay out my jewelry and clothes. That bracelet is always on the dresser ready to pop on before I head out the door to greet my Uber driver. 

There have been times when the bracelet has come unhooked and it is barely hanging on my wrist. I have left it in a bin at the airport and had to run back to TSA to get it before I boarded my flight. A few times, the charms have fallen off and I retrace my steps to find them. Most recently when that happened, the charms were found in a conference room and 'flown' back to me. Wearing the bracelet is a ritual. I believe I can't travel without it. It's almost a superstitious-type thing where I must have it in order to safely arrive at my destination and then make it back home.

I know that a bracelet doesn't guarantee my safety. It does provide a level of comfort and brings me a sense of peace. 

Planning an outfit around a bracelet or pairing bracelets with a selected outfit feels a bit absurd, when with perspective, the clothes and jewelry I wear do not matter. My intellect, my empathy, my listening and my interest in the people I coach are what matter. My care, my patience, my support and my love I show toward my family are what matter.

At this season of life, I seem to be thinking about my time with my family and friends more and more. I'm prioritizing them over after-work events and volunteer time. I'm trying to find ways to be with family and friends more often. Now, there are so many hours in the day and my fourth parts are typically reserved for my selfish time. But, I do find time in those fourth parts that revolve around family and friends.

I wish I had stacks of time for friends and family.

I wonder if my friends would like to come over for laundry, HEB pick up or clean the shower day? I wonder if they would like to ride with me to pick up Camille from gymnastics on the nights G has games? I wonder if they would like to help figure out the easiest, quickest tic tac toe homework square and then cajole my children to finish it up before the week starts (isn't that what the weekend is for -- getting the homework squares done so we don't have to do them during the week)?

I wonder if they would like to do a 20-minute Ole Henriksen peel, drink a glass of wine and watch The Mindy Project on Hulu. Yeah, I bet they would.

This is a not so much travel week, but it is preparation for a big event that someone doesn't want anyone knowing but the name rhymes with nervous and has to do with a birthday age that is divisible by 5 and 10.

So, if my fourth part planning works out according to my wants and desires, I'll have an evening event with a girlfriend while we finalize my girls' Halloween costumes and talk about how not to have a Sunday event for someone who doesn't really want it even though I will invite people over and we may have strawberry cake.

Stacks of wishes for the one who is never nervous.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Re-Fi and Flu Shots

In about 33 days, 20 hours and 40-something minutes, I'll be on a 'happy birthday to me' vacation with my girls, my sisters and some life-long friends.

I've a long list of to-dos and am pretty proud of myself for divvying out the items over evenings, lunch breaks and weekend errand runs. Most of the time I would not consider errands and online shopping fourth part of the day activities -- it's the new fall season of television and NJ Housewives are back -- but because I'm planning my tres bien trip, I'm loving my after third part goings ons.

I recently ordered packing cubes and found that Allison will loan me her adapter (we need electronics up and running at all times). The girls have their airplane wraps and we have identified what dolls and stuffed animals are making the trip. I have ordered a few things for me and put them aside -- can't wait to use my Longchamp le pliage bag. I found four charger cord leather fold-over organizers.

I continue to wonder if I should order a pair of black short booties, return the overpriced Superga sneakers I bought at a local shoe boutique (I mean, Nordstrom and Poshmark have them for much cheaper but I don't know if this spot takes returns -- I don't want a store credit so I might send G. He's good at the return) and hunt for the perfect white t-shirt. (See earlier post on that search.)

I've planned three days of the trip and have outlined some other things to do when everyone arrives the day of my birthday. I found an app that takes Paris restaurant reservations -- La Fourchette. And, I've mapped out visits to the museums the girls and I will visit.

This week, I need to call to make a reservation at the restaurant that will be the site of the big birthday dinner -- brush up on my French. OK, I'll write what I want to say and, then, translate in an app. I want to finalize our airplane seats this week. And, I'm wanting to purchase some clear, zippered envelope-sized bags for the girls for their electronics, cords and other need to have items to put in their carry-on backpacks. I think I also need to find make-off remover and face cleanser wipes -- much easier than face wash.

I will schedule my next few nail and wax appointments in preparation for take off. I've already set the hair cut and color schedule. (Oh, that reminds me, I'll need to schedule hair cuts and braids for the girls!)

Eventually, I will get a few Euros to take and make my official packing lists. (Do I bring my tall boots? They are super comfortable but they are so heavy and I really don't want to wear them on the plane.)

Wait. I've other things to do. Life does not stop when you are planning a trip.

I've got Baylor football -- Homecoming hotel reservations, yes. Finding a friend to have lunch with before tailgating, still searching.

I've got Lee football -- red shirts, a few. Snacks to pack, weekly decision. Cash for the concession stand, on-the-way-to-the-game stop.

We've got school and homework and gymnastics. One meet to go this fall in Houston, which requires planning but we don't know the time of the meet, yet.

I've got the laundry, work outs, grocery shopping and basic housekeeping (Clorox wipes every few days counts, right?).

Then, we've the other fall things to do. Pumpkin patch visit, Halloween costume decisions and shopping and Gervais' birthday (he turns the big number, too and wants absolutely nothing for his birthday. Really, I'm going to Paris and he wants nothing. Ugh. Someone, help!)

A couple of other items on the get down in the fall checklist -- flu shots, FAFSA and re-financing. All include the letter f. Hmmm.

Flu shots, done. Got those scheduled on our October holiday. The girls did not cry so G is giving them $5 each. Let's see if they save that for a few Euros.

FAFSA, finished today. Remember when that thing was done in January or February? Now, it opens up in October. And, boy, you better rush to that site and get your numbers submitted so you can find out you get little money. Thankfully, I found the file with the passwords, user IDs and even the file with the Turbo Tax log-in info. It only took a few minutes to see that I can contribute massive amounts of money to Chris' education. Nah, I prefer spending that money on a birthday trip to a foreign country.

Re-financing our mortgage because interest rates are super low and we can get a shorter mortgage term which means in the end we save money, paper work completed today. Just a few pieces of paper to sign and then fax over.

Accomplished quite a bit on this holiday.

Yet, I can't really feel too proud of myself. You know what happens when you sit back and think, I'm good -- something happens that proves you are far from good. Ahhh, humility.

We're told in I Peter 5:5 to clothe ourselves in humility because 'God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.' The references to pride and humility are prominently scattered throughout the Bible. Hmm, maybe God knew we would struggle with that? How do you feel good about accomplishments without being sinfully proud? Well, you probably don't write a blog post about all you've done in a day. Or maybe you just step back and remain not-self centered in accomplishments and recognize how the work got done.

I don't get much done on my 'own.' You see, I'm super dependent on others and quite resourceful. I rely on strength that comes from some place other than myself. I pray to God to help with my comings and goings and ask that He direct my path.

(Sing the Amy Grant song with me 'thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.' Really, I could sing the entire song, right now. Oh, and I did record the Remember the Music special on TBN about Amy Grant and she sang 'Thy Word.' Which, I belted out back in the day at Mac Park Lutheran on Sunday mornings in front of the entire church. Side note, when I tried to harmonize, the woman playing the piano would stop and say 'what is that' as if she heard some strange un-harmonic sound. I would look around as if she wasn't speaking to me.)

When you read I Peter 5:5 and you move on to the seventh verse of that chapter, the following verse presents. 'Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.'

Anxiety. Yes, Xanax helps, but really casting it on God is the ultimate solution. When you are planning your days, weeks, weekends, fall and vacation, there are times when anxiety seeps into your being and suddenly, it begins to take over.

Go back to verse six because that is how God provides for the anxious thoughts. 'Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.'

Nice. He helps just at the right time. Perfect timing. No need for anxiety. No need for over planning. No need for trying to be proud of myself.

If you know Amy's Thy Word, you also know she has a few words in the verses around 'nothing will I fear, as long as you are near' and 'Jesus by my guide and hold me to your side.' So, see. I can be super pleased with the progress I've made on my trip and fall plans.

(Did I just write 'trip and fall' . . .uh oh, humility lining right up.)

But, I need to give credit where credit is due. And, it isn't because I've done much more than a lot of internet research. It's because I've got this God on my side who knows the plans for me (which means making it to 50 and a trip to Paris, please, please, please) and keeps me humble through my need for Him when I'm making plans.

Now, if I can just remember when I'm getting my flu shot. Next week? Before we go to Waco? After I've figured out the right jacket to take on my trip?

Casting, casting, casting it.