Thursday, September 29, 2011

Forced to let go of the past. Like it or not.

I have returned from my trip to Denver. The work part was exhausting and the personal part exhilarating.

The night before I left for Denver I was working hard to finish up some of my work when my contractor called. The screen on my phone went blank and cut us off. We reconnected and then it did it again. That was the last time it has worked. At 7:30 pm I jumped in my car and sped to the nearest ATT phone and got myself a phone.

I found out that none of my numbers were retrievable because they weren't being saved to the sim card, just to the phone. I didn't know that. I guess it ask you this the very first time you save something and that is the only time.

I stood there for a moment and it reminded me of the day I was locked out on the porch. My mind taking in the information keeping panic at bay. Then thinking I am still here nothing life threatening has happened. Maybe.

So in one fell swoop I have wiped out my past. You know those numbers of people you would never really call, unless you were on your death bed and only if you had thought of some clever last minute jab as you take your last breath. Hey I am human after all.

I was the one who wanted to get rid of my story, right? Just to reinforce this idea of getting rid of my story I had a second opportunity. While up in the mountains (see picture above) I ran out of space on my camera card and the only way to take new pictures was to delete the ones on the card. It was the last trip with the ex and the ex in-laws.

One by one our happy little faces disappearing from the screen. I was forced to do this over and over because I wasn't willing to delete all. Facing the past again and again always opting for the beauty of the present over the memories of the past.

I felt a twinge of sadness. That is not my life anymore. I can say now I am really happy about that. Whats 4 years of of grief in the scheme of of things. Looking at it and re-living all that has happened since that trip doesn't change a thing. I don't want to do that anymore.

I believe we are exactly where we need to be no matter how long it takes. There are no accidents. I got an opportunity to test my feelings and see if my desire to move on is real. I am really there.

A coincidence? I don't think so. I will be fine without the numbers the people that love me now have my number and have been calling me. The clients numbers I can get from the files and anyone else that I have made contact with in the recent past will be on the detail portion of my bill. Anything older than that I can live without.

More details and pictures from the trip later. Happy to be hom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Locked Out - At least I had my clothes on

I have been working a lot and preparing for my trip to Denver. I leave tomorrow and haven't started packing and have several deadlines to meet before I leave the office tonight.

It is weird I haven't flown for a couple of years and besides a trip to my sister's house I haven't left town in awhile. I am going alone. I have a conference for 3 days and then the rest of the time I am on my own. I have never done that before so we will see how comfortable I am with leisure time on my own in a new city.

I do have a funny story to tell. On Sunday I slept really late and woke up groggy and decided to take a shower and get dressed. This is unusual for me since I normally do chores and hang around all day so getting dressed is optional.

I made a sandwich and went out on the porch and closed the door behind me. When I finished eating I turned to go in and the door was locked. I stood there for a moment in shock. What are my options. No phone, no phone numbers, no car, no shoes and no hide a key.

I did feel grateful that I had showered and put clothes on. I checked the windows and of course they were locked. I went next door and knocked, no one answered. I could hear them so I yelled out it is your neighbor.

The door opened and two dogs, three kids and a bewildered mom greeted me with enthusiam. Like a long lost relative. I have only seen the kids a couple of times. The twin girls will be three in December and their older brother.

Evidently their mother talks about me all the time to them and they know I dog sit. The were so excited and showed me all their toys one by one. I was quite exciting for everyone.

Once I got to the phone I dialed the only number I had memorized my first number in the program. The hub of communication for our program family. Can you call so and so he has a key an so and so to help break into the house.

The latter showed up first. He has done it before and I don't want to know where those skills came from. In the program this is a clearly don't ask don't tell situation. Within minutes I was back in the house.

It wasn't a crisis and didn't ruin my day, if I had been in my pj's that would have been an even funnier story and one I wouldn't be so happy to tell. I have learned over the years that not everything is a crisis unless I decide it has to be one.

So I better get back to work or I will be here all night. I will be sure to take some pictures to post when I get back.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Miracles happen sometimes it just takes awhile.

I had my belated birthday dinner with my sponsor last night. We met about 20 years ago when I kept seeing her following me to the meetings. We were instant friends and she never gave me too many rules. She was real patient with me and always positive.

She is still the most uplifting person I have ever met. Even though her home life wasn't too uplifting and her husband spent his evenings standing by his pick up truck drinking beer from a cooler. I guess he didn't think she would catch on after a few decades.

I always really liked him he was a large bearded man with a sand paper personality. Very smart but pretty mad at the world. We always got along because I can be pretty scrappy too when I want to be. He never intimidated me with his mean exterior.

In those days they never went anywhere together. He worked and then stood by the truck most nights. I remember for years she cooked him something and left it on the stove and we went to dinner.

With what she learned in the program she started creating a life of joy for herself. She started traveling the world with friends and let him stay where he was for as long as he wanted to be there.

A few years ago something changed. He stopped drinking and started attending mass each week. Six months ago he started a diet and has lost nearly 100 lbs. This week they joined a gym together.

Last night we all went to dinner together. He talked about love and forgiveness and letting go of past resentments. Living in the moment.

Just writing this has brought tears to my eyes. It is a miracle and one that is a mystery to me and her. When he left the table she said that she has no idea what woke him up. She said it certainly wasn't anything she did. She just lived her life and let him live his. Maybe it was something she did. She let him live his own life.

So miracles do happen. People can get sober without us Al-anons pushing them along. Everyone has to find their own way. It is hard when you love someone to just sit and watch while they destroy themselves. This is why the program works. It says you have to take care of yourself and let the other person do the same.

We want to help someone be somewhere before they are ready. I think when you push people they push back. I know I do. The child in me says I don't want to do it if you want me to. I want it to be my idea not yours.

Just sitting across from him last night I thought wow is this really happening? I am still amazed that even when we give up, God's grace is endless.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gun slingers and facing the enemy

I had to be a grown up today and file my business taxes. It wasn't too bad. Of course I waited until the last minute because I know I will have to pay something.

My accountant is somewhere between 75 and 85 years old and she has the demeanor of a saloon bartender from those old west movies. She gave it to me with both guns blazing about waiting until the last minute.

She pointed out the mistakes I made filling out my quarterly taxes and I pointed out how I had corrected those mistakes and re-filed. I am always a little intimidated by her. She told me the last I was there everyone is just waiting for her to die so they can run the place.

I love her she great. After she scolded me we had a laugh when I told her "you don't scare me I have faced our arch nemesis the IRS and survived" I haven't received one letter from them since. I told her I was just happy to still be here and not menopausal and not depressed.

She wants me to let her do the quarterly taxes but I said at the time it was between her and keeping the electric on.

I had to confess to her that I am in charge of the accounting and some of the details of what has been going on. The first question was, are you getting paid to run someone else's business. I said I have been paying myself a regular salary. She said good and gave me some other good advice.

I am capable now and ready to get on with the business of life. I felt good to just get something done. I did end up paying a little bit and of course I paid her but it wasn't too bad. Today being a grown up wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I was off yesterday and couldn't get out of a funk. I went to my tried and true methods for shaking off the despair I was feeling. I read uplifting literature, I watched my favorite recorded shows and ended with a three movie marathon.

All were excellent distractions but the minute they were over the feelings reappeared. I finally decided maybe journaling would help bring the real answer to the top. I find that writing past the first page I can get to the real issue.

It seems to come back to the same thing for me, how did I end up here? Did I make bad choices in my life? Was I not enough for the people I loved. Apparently I wasn't or we would still be together. Truthfully no one is enough to meet all of another person's needs. The trick is that both people have to know that. Instead of looking for greener pastures. In long relationships you either grow together or apart.

I still feel the funk today and opted to come into the office before a late appointment today. I can't expect to feel happy every day. I can be grateful that I don't feel the way I did a few months ago.

With work at top speed I think trying to relax on my days off is hard. Going 0 to 100and back to 0 isn't that easy. I have faith that I will not be alone forever. I am just now coming out of a long period of grief and depression and starting to get strong again. I know timing is everything.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A different approach - Not seeing eye to eye.

It is the end of the week for me and I am still catching up today. On my way in this morning I was going over a discussion I had with my future partner yesterday.

I was stating that I felt bad because I didn't get a chance to present a bathroom design before my customer went on vacation. She said that I didn't know how to put my customers off without them knowing it. This did hit a nerve with me but luckily we got interrupted before the conversation continued.

What she said is the major difference between us and our work philosophy. She is still operating from the angle of what works best for her and not what works best for the customer. In our business it use to be the customer was a little fish in a big pond and now they are a big fish in a little pond.

Over the years we have made basically the same money. I usually have more average size jobs mixed with a couple of larger jobs each year. She usually has bigger jobs that can takes months and even years to close and with more demanding customers.

It was hard for me not to comment on this view and I did say that I felt that if you gave people too much time to look elsewhere then someone slick salesperson could convince them to go with a lower end product.

With the market changing I think that making the most of every customer contact is important. This is my ego talking and me wanting her to think the way I think.

I have kept us afloat this year with my small jobs but by the end of the year if one of her jobs closes she will catch up with me. So there isn't really any right or wrong here just a difference in the way we think.

Here is a side note. The customer I thought I missed out on called this morning and wants to come in today. Letting go of the outcome of everything and I mean everything is really working for me. Trusting that everything is exactly as it is suppose to be is hard and I want improve on God's plan with my own ideas.

I haven't done such a great job on my own in the past so this time I am letting it all go.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting my mind straight

The powerful effect that positive thinking can have on your life today should not be underestimated. In fact, it just may be the key to a happier and healthier you.

I woke up a little off today. Happy to have work but feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. Going from 0 to 100 in short time has really been an adjustment.

By deciding to see things differently I have had nothing but abundance coming my way. I guess it was piling up against the door waiting for me to change my attitude. When I cracked the door open I have been trampled by goodness.

While writing here a cutomer came in and wants to do a bathroom.

The above is today's horoscope I thought it was a sign to get my mind right today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A remembered sunset - Healing the past

I had a long jammed packed business day yesterday. It started earlier than usual and ended around 6:30. As I was driving home I crossed over the highway and saw the most spectacular sunset. The beauty actually brought tears to my eyes.

I thought it seemed somehow familiar to me so fiery and so many colors.

I realized that it looked like a sunset that I helped paint for a high school play. I think I told this story before when I was in a painful place. How the art teacher whom I idolized asked myself and another student to paint a sunset.

We were so thrilled an honored that she picked us to paint it. We stayed up all night and painted a bright orange sunset with every color you could imagine. The colors represented who we were inside, a little outrageous a little outside the box.

When the curtain came up she had gotten one of the more talented inside the box artist to paint a foggy gray sunset. I quit taking art classes after that. I respected her and figured I must not be good enough to be a real artist.

It took m 20 years to start painting with that same enthusiasm.

It wasn't personal I know that now. As a teenager I took to heart and held it there and then carried all those years. Seems absurd now it was just her opinion but then it was my opinion of myself that kept it alive.

Yesterday I thought there's my sunset with every color imaginable painted with abandonment by God for all the world to see. A bigger audience than any high school play would ever have.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I see dead people - Who are they?

My birthday started out very quiet I just hung around the house, doing nothing really. I decided to visit my upstairs and see if I was inspired to tackle any projects up there.

One room had pictures strewn out all over the floor. I am always moving furniture around and I moved the chest of drawers they were in to my studio downstairs. I use to think it was Chester drawers, that was always confusing to me, why would they name a piece of furniture Chester?

Anyway, I started looking at this old photo album that came from my aunt's house. It is real old and full of people I don't know. Her husbands family. No one left on his side of the family. None of the pictures have names and some are so tiny it is hard to see the person.

I decided I would make an art project out of the photos. Use them to practice drawing and keep the photo and the picture together. I have been reading a book about famous successful people and how it takes and equivalent of 10 years to become really good at something, so I thought I better get started soon.

This book made me think how many times I saw what I thought was pure talent when really it was dedication and repetition that brought out a small talent. I am impatient and expect to be good at something instantly. If I am not then I quit and say I don't have the talent for it. Really I am not interested enough to put the time in or I am too embarrassed to suck at something until I get it.

Comparing myself to someone who has in some cases dedicated their life to their craft and expecting instant success is setting myself up for failure. Is it important enough to me to make the same effort. It is also a slam to the person who has spent time learning something.

It is the same with the program it takes time and effort to get to a place of serenity. In the beginning I wanted to be well I didn't like it when I found out that people had been there for decades. I felt better pretty quickly but here I am decades later still learning new things about myself.

For the project I have committed to drawing each photo ten times before moving to the next photo. I started yesterday and used a magnifying glass to see the details. One down and 50 to go. If I can get my scanner up and running I post some of drawings.

Let see if I have what it takes.

Final note. No one looked too happy back then. I guess with the depression and then war not too much to be happy about.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I was wrong - Again - Making amends

It is interesting to me how my recent awakening has caused me to see just how wrong I have been about everything, really everything.

We have a contractor that we have worked with for years. He is a hardworking honest guy and over the years we have helped him build his business. In fact his core business is based on people we have introduced him to and he rents from one of my customers.

It always bothered me that once I introduced him to my customer they turned to him from that point on. They refer him and not me. He in turn tries to direct the business back to us when it has to do with kitchens and baths.

He came by last night to discuss a job and I realized for the first time how hard he works to do what is right for the customer. Just like me. He also is a good business person and tries to squeak out every bit of business out of his customers. Just like me. He does what ever it takes to get the job done and make the customer happy. Just like me.

What I realized now that I am awake is once again it isn't personal. He spends way more time with the customer because he is living with them during construction and helping them through the day to day process. I can't do that and truthfully when he is on the job we know the customer will happy so less effort is spent to stay connected.

Last night I made an amends. It wasn't a specific amends more like a blanket amends. I just said I was sorry for anything I might have done over these past years that might have hurt him. I told him I haven't been myself in a long time and I was sorry. He graciously accepted my apology.

We are alike in many ways, both perfectionist and just can't let things go.

My level of respect for him has gone up. He of course has not changed it is me who has changed. I am sure there is more amends to come and maybe a better working relationship.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Truth and consequences

I have a birthday coming up on Labor Day. Isn't it nice that most of the country takes off to celebrate.

I am not sure what the plans are at the moment. I have to face the fact that I have jettisoned most of my casual friends and some of my close friends. I have some guilt about that when I think of all the birthdays we spent together.

I had to empty my life for what ever reason. I felt I drowning and weighted down my some unknown entity. I purged it all not knowing what was the problem. It was my past of course the belief that I could not escape it and I wasn't ready to face the fact that past only exist in my head.

I have moments of loneliness. Being fully awake has its drawbacks. I am responsible for being exactly where I am at this moment. The difference now is that I can feel the loneliness and let it wash over me as just for this moment of time. I don't have to thrash around and run like I use to chanting to myself. I don't want this, I don't want this...

I have felt such peace not resisting. I have been able to even look at my childhood religion and see that I have run from Jesus because I didn't want to have anything to do with anything my family was associated with. I could see that it wasn't him it was them I was running from. In my child like mind I didn't want to make them happy by accepting any of their beliefs, so I threw all of them out.

I liked the program because you weren't aloud to talk about Jesus. We talk about God and a higher power a power greater than ourselves. I wouldn't have stayed if Jesus had been involved. Jesus must carried the baggage of every crazy thing done in his name.

Hey I can say this because I was beaten in the name of Jesus so I understand the pain that goes with his name. I have been comfortable with God for a long time. I have read a lot of books on the idea of God. For me it was what I was resisting that was holding me back.

This was the boogie man in the closet for me the last childish thing. I had to see that it wasn't Jesus it was the negative power his name had over my life. The negative power I gave it.

I am not saying I have become a Jesus freak passing out pamphlets on the street like I did as a child or that I have joined a mega church. The point is that it is all OK with me now the resistance is gone. I can look at his teachings and take what I like and leave the rest. I can come home to some of my childhood beliefs and see the good there not just the bad.

I have found that anything that I resist has some fear associated with it. In this case a fear that I would become like them or I would fall in a hole that I could not climb out of. I did that anyway. I can separate from my emotions and say it wasn't all bad and some of the teachings were pretty good.

Byron Katey said if you stumble across a rope in the grass and you think it is a snake you might run off screaming. Once you see that it is just a rope you can never be afraid of it again. I am not afraid anymore.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taking a beating - Have we learned anything?

Both in life and in business when times are tough people pull together to weather the storm when the storm passes and crisis is over things inevitably go back to the way they were unless we make an effort to learn from the past.

The ego steps in and we start to look after ourselves. It is human nature. This is what I am experiencing here with the guy in our building. He is slammed busy and feeling a little less generous or open to building a relationship.

We did talk and I could see that he he felt perfectly justified in stepping in and offering to build the cabinets and cut the price. He is right it was his customer and he could do as he pleased. I just thought if he had called me we could have worked together to reduce price.

I want to build something together a partnership with us making decisions together. They're some big egos in this business and they have taken a beating over the past few years. Have we learned anything? I know I have and I will move on if I need to.

It feels good to have a break in the storm where it seems things are returning to normal. What ever that is. But it is not a time to rest but a time to focus on getting our house in order. Preparing for the ebb an flow of this industry and of life in general.

You never know when the next lesson will arrive. It is possible that this could be the eye of the storm.

Treating people with respect all the time even when it isn't easy but it is always the right thing to do. I respect his decision to do what he thought he had to do to save the job. Even if that meant throwing me under the bus. I am over it now.