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October 26, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in food, health, life, movies, work, worship.
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Tomorrow, after Boy-o’s dad comes to pick him up, I will be cleaning out my cupboards and refrigerator, giving the food in them away, and making a shopping list. I’m starting over from scratch. After a decade and a half of laughing in the face of Mother Nature and willfully refusing to take care of myself, type 2 diabetes has finally come a-knocking at my door.

I’ve always had a genetic predisposition to developing it, courtesy of my maternal grandmother, who controlled hers through diet alone until she was in her 80’s, but my love of all things sugary has definitely aggravated the onset. Before I began the lifestyle changes that helped me lose 60 pounds in 2006, my lab work placed me in the pre-diabetic category, but after 9 months of intense discipline in my diet and exercise, my blood glucose dropped to acceptable levels. I had stopped smoking and my asthma had improved dramatically. And then a year ago, I started a job as a child welfare caseworker, a job that made me desperately unhappy. I was fired 8 months later, and the following month saw the demise of my marriage. Since then, depression and a lack of energy and financial resources (for weight-loss meetings and depression and asthma medications) have meant that healthy habits went on the back burner. And now, the chickens have come home to roost.

I’m a little afraid, but strangely, I’m also filled with a sense of “I always KNEW this was going to happen – and finally it HAS, so let’s get on with it now!” Inevitability. Yeah, that’s it.

geico-cavemen-restaurant.jpg I’m going to try a version of the Paleolithic diet, sometimes called the Neanderthal diet or the Caveman diet. I’m not going to go slaughtering my own food, but I’m going to try to stick to lean meat, seafood, eggs, and stuff that I could pick off a tree or dig out of the ground. And I’m going to have to make friends with herbs and spices and give up on sauces. Lots and lots of water, though that’s not really a problem, as I love water. It just takes discipline to be a water drinker, and lack of discipline is what landed me in this boat to begin with. I’ll keep juice and milk in the house for Boy-o, but snacking on fruit and seeds instead of cheese and crackers will be better for him, too. Fortunately, he loves broccoli “trees” and all manner of other raw veggies – it has just been pure laziness on my part buying packaged snacks.

So, that’s that. Change of subject…since I’m too lazy to do another complete post!

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Well, I’m really hating my job…as in I have complete and utter loathing for it. No, really, I’m not kidding. I work in a call center as a customer service rep for a wireless phone service provider. I’ve done this kind of work before, in college, and for a little while right after I figured out a career in the field I majored in wasn’t in the cards for me. And it sucks. I was telling someone today that the more I work in customer service, the more I realize how much I really, really hate people. I also said that the thing about the call center industry that doesn’t make sense to me is that the entire job consists of being on the phone and being nice, yet all rewards and promotions and incentives in the company are geared toward getting to spend time OFF the phone. The people actually on the phones are the ones who keep the call center engine grinding away, who are told how important it is to sit in your chair, keep taking calls, to document all conversations quickly and thoroughly, and to move on to the next call. Doesn’t it seem kind of strange that, for doing your job well, you are rewarded with OPT (off the phone time), which means…NOT having to do your job? Or am I overthinking this?

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Lastly, I watched this little piece of cinematic fluff today. It made me cry. Whether that’s because I’m overly fragile or because it’s a really good story with lots of great stuff about a compassionate and loving God, I don’t know. But I do love Ben Stiller. And seeing Anne Bancroft made me smile, because she was one of my very favorite actors of all time.

It really made me want to go back to church.

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I started my new job tonight… July 24, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in work.
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…as a customer service agent for a major wireless phone service provider. I’ll be in training for the first 8 weeks. 4 weeks of classroom training, 4 weeks of heavily supervised and supported training on the phones, and after that, I get thrown out onto the floor to take calls. And I can’t WAIT. I had so much fun tonight playing with the program that contains all the answers to every question that any customer could possibly ever ask. This information is updated constantly…the point being that CSR’s don’t need to know the answers to every questions right out of the gate, they just need to be able to navigate their way through this tool to find the necessary information.

It’s time to do an analysis here.

Highest paying jobs of my career: restaurant manager and child protective services caseworker, BOTH of which made me thoroughly unhappy and both of which lasted just over half a year apiece.

Lowest paying jobs of my career: reservations/customer service for 2 different hotels and customer service for a hospital medical records department, each of which lasted a MINIMUM of a year and a half apiece…each of which I was very, very good at…and each of which I left on good terms with my boss, in pursuit of other, higher paying jobs that made me MISERABLE. And now, customer service for said wireless phone service provider. Hmmmm…seems to be a customer service theme here. Ah yes, this would be why I majored in hospitality management, because I like taking care of people’s needs. But all the jobs that make a living wage in these industries take you further and further away from the person who needs a bed, a meal, their important records, or their phone fixed.

So, what do you do when what you really enjoy and what you’re truly good at doesn’t pay enough to live on and support a child on?  What is wrong with this picture?

That’s not a rhetorical question, either.  I really am seeking advice here.

phone monkey July 23, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in education, marriage, work.
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So, I’m employed again.

I have a limited ability to multitask, and having stress from being 1) approved for unemployment and then 2) finding out that my former employer is appealing the decision is one layer of it that I had the ability to remove, and so I have. It’s not a great job. It pays very little.  But having a job will give my days (well actually, nights in this case) a rhythm again, something that I have sorely missed, and it’s fairly low stress and I can leave the work at work. It’s something to do while I figure out what is going to happen with my marriage, and what my future educational plans will be if the relationship can be put back together, or not, as the case may be.

As far as the job itself – it is providing telephone customer service for a cellular service provider. Like I said, fairly low stress. I’ve done this kind of work before, and I rose to a trainer position very quickly. If that happens here, great, if not, well…that’s okay, too. I can be a phone monkey with the best of them.

Oh boy… February 26, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in work.
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You know that icky feeling you get when you know you said something kind of dumb to your boss? Yep, I’m good buddies with that feeling right about now.

Things I have thought about blogging about this week… February 10, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in life, tattoos, work.
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…followed by short comments on each subject since I was, in fact, too lazy to write a real blog post:

1) Why, since I have to work, I am a fan of day care centers as opposed to in-home childcare.

For several reasons. They are licensed, and therefore accountable in a way that in-home child cares are not. My son has learned how to function in a group and has developed good social skills from simple things like having to wait his turn, and he knows he’s not the center of attention in any given room. I remember being painfully, painfully shy when I went to preschool for the first time at age 4 because I hadn’t had much association with other kids, and fortunately, this is not a character trait that appears to afflict my son. He’s learning from a young age that other kids come from families different from his own, and that that is fine for them, but it doesn’t mean that we are going to be like them. And the IRS’s Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit ain’t bad, either.

2) Why Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Cream is the best…product…ever from Bath and Body Works.

Because my husband likes the smell of it, and is thus willing (in fact, he often asks if he can) to apply to my shoulders, elbows, and feet on a semi-routine basis.

3) Taxes, and WHY DO I ALWAYS END UP OWING THIS FREAKING STATE MORE MONEY, and then, and THEN, on top of that they assess you an UNDERPAYMENT penalty if you owe! arrrrgggghhhhh!

Why does half of my federal refund inevitably end up going to the state? I never knew how good I had it in the state I grew up in where there is no state income tax, and no sales tax on groceries.

4) My next tattoo

It’s going to be a claddagh, the Irish wedding ring design made up of hands holding a heart with a crown on top, which symbolizes friendship, loyalty, and love. Except, instead of hands holding a heart, I think I’m going to have the hands creating the shape of a heart – kinda like this:

I think I’m going to have the Irish words for “earth” (talamh) and “angel” (aingeal) tattooed around it, since these words represent my children’s names.

5) Why I love the Cold War Kids.

For the title of the song “Red Wine, Success!”

Well, while I can’t tell you what or where my new… September 29, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in work.
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Well, while I can’t tell you what or where my new job is, I can at last talk about my old one. I worked for the hospital in the town my in-laws live in, in the medical records department as a privacy and release coordinator. That’s a fancy way of saying I copied medical records for anyone who needed them, and this required me to stay abreast of HIPAA and hospital policies regarding patient privacy. When I took the job a little over a year ago, it was quite simply because I needed a job, any job, and this one was available. What I’m taking away from the job is much, much more.

The hospital is a member of the Sisters of Mercy Health System. The Sisters of Mercy were founded by Catherine McAuley in Ireland in the late 1800’s, and believe it or not, this is something that all 900 + employees of the hospital know. When the health system took over this hospital 10 years ago, they immediately implemented their Mercy culture and Mercy values. Now make no mistake – it’s as “corporate” here as any other place I’ve ever worked, but even in a non-clinical area like medical records, Mercy service, mission, and ethics are emphasized daily. Yesterday, I took my lunchtime to sit down with Sister C., the hospital’s lone representative of the actual order of nuns who founded this incredible organization. She works as the director of patient relations, and I wanted to make sure before I left that I shared with her what working for Mercy has done for me in terms of clarifying my personal sense of call. I told her that being a part of this place had been given me the courage to be completely open to whatever area of ministry God is calling me to next. Surprisingly enough, she was amazed at what I had to say. When I had asked a few days ago to talk to her, she thought it was because I had a problem. It’s funny how we almost always assume that something must be *wrong* when someone wants to talk to us. Anyway, we talked a bit about my journey in spiritual direction, and she sat back and looked very pensive for a moment, and confided that as much as she loves this town, she missed the spiritual connection of being part of a community. She also asked me to put her in touch with my director to see if she would be willing to take on another directee, and so I promised her that I would do that. Finally, she asked if she could share my story with the attendees of a meeting she was about to travel to, a meeting that plans to discuss the important of “Sister Presence” in the Mercy hospitals, and I said of course she could. And so I leave this hospital feeling completely nourished by the time I spent here, and looking forward to the new job that awaits me on Monday, a job that I never would have had the courage to try if not for Mercy.

construction time again AGAIN, or "aren’t we there YET?" September 27, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in chaos, education, life, work.
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Last night as I stood on the back porch of our new house, I was looking at the sunset, feeling sorry for myself as usual, and thinking once again (as I have a tendency to do) that the chaos never seems to end for us. Here’s the rundown – these numbers include both husband and myself:

Number of years married: 4

Cities lived in: 5

Number of residences lived in: 6

Number of jobs held: 7 permanent, 3 temp positions

Number of churches joined: 4

Every time we’ve moved, we’ve sworn it was going to be the last time until….but we let the “until” trail off, because we knew that the minute we tried to tie ourselves down, our old friend Change would come roaring up the driveway ready to uproot us. Here’s the thing: we’re still relatively young, and though Change has usually been unexpected, I have to say we’ve done a remarkable job adapting. A new place to live has never been difficult to find, a new church has always welcomed us with open arms, and a new job usually follows right when we need it. But it’s only recently that I’ve stepped back to take a look at the larger picture, and I’m wondering what God might be preparing me for. I DON’T believe that my life is out of my control or that I’m a pawn in a divine chess game, but I do believe there is a purpose and a plan that I can’t perceive at this moment. I know this move isn’t the last – when husband finishes his degree, we will move again if I am sent to seminary, and then again when I finish, and probably several more times in the course of my ministry. I don’t expect that we will be in the market to buy a home of our own anytime in the next, oh, let’s say 10 years or so. I have to decide if I’m really, truly at peace with that. I *think* I am – we obviously haven’t been in a rush to get our lives settled into any type of permanent situation so far, so why start now, right?

I was listening to a conversation… May 15, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in theology, work, worship.
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…between two of my coworkers today, both of whom are absolutely delightful women – I can’t even tell you how much laughter we’ve shared with each other in the almost-year that I’ve worked here. Anyway, both of them are Pentecostal. One is the only-wears-dresses and doesn’t-wear-makeup-or-watch-TV sort, and the other worships at an Assemblies of God church and has no problem with pants or makeup, but thoroughly rejects anything secular in her choice of TV or music. I love these women, I really do. We talk about all manner of things having to do with their worship style versus mine (they call theirs “pew-jumping”!), and they love to talk about the Bible and what particular verses might be trying to teach them. These conversations are always illuminating to me, because we have such different approaches to the Scriptures, but I never say anything. I guess I don’t want to seem argumentative, or perhaps I just know that no matter what I say their opinions are fixed and won’t be changed, so why bother? (Hmmm, that’s kind of a cruddy attitude for a wannabe seminarian…)

But in the course of this conversation, a rather disturbing idea occurred to me. It was that, somehow, it seems no matter how much they claim to be free from all fear because they are saved, they are very afraid indeed – afraid of challenges to their ideas, and afraid to try and really embrace the idea of a God who is bigger than they are, and whose ways are unknowable. They say they are open to the amazing workings of the Holy Spirit in ways which non-Pentecostals are not, but there seem to be a limited number of forms those workings take – speaking in tongues, holy laughter, and being slain in the Spirit are just a few. I’ve asked one of them if they think there is any possibility that maybe, just maybe the Spirit works in a quieter way through our Church and through the gradual changing of people’s hearts in ways that serve to break down gender discrimination, homophobia, and racism. Do the workings of the Holy Spirit have to be loud and immediately obvious at a glance? The gist of the answer was that these things are not the working of the Holy Spirit – we are being “led astray”, because God has already told us what everyone’s role in society is, through the Bible.

I kind of had to end the conversation at this point on an “agree to disagree” basis, because it would be too hard to work with someone who you believe is firmly in Satan’s clutches, and if we went any further that might be the conclusion she ended up drawing about me! I believe it is human nature to seek out a better understanding of and a deeper relationship with that which created us – God. But God is not a person – and I don’t want Her to be! I want to understand God’s will for me, but I don’t want to understand God.

Nonetheless, a happy 100th birthday to the Pentecostal movement! This same friend I had the above conversation with was telling me how she was about to take her 4 year old son out of “children’s church” and let him start coming to “big people’s church”. When he asked her what he was supposed to do and how he was supposed to behave, she said “well, you sit down and be quiet”. When she told me this story later, she followed up with, “And right after I told him that, I remembered, “wait a minute – we’re Pentecostal!”

well, i’ve had a mini-dry spell with regards to po… January 26, 2006

Posted by introspectreangel in blogging, lyrics, vocation, work.
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well, i’ve had a mini-dry spell with regards to posting, but that’s because nothing terribly exciting is going on. blessedly, we received some good rain last sunday, but not a drop since, and i don’t think one day of rain is going to be enough to reverse the damage 80+ days of no rain has wrought on our landscape. i also managed to get myself back into church, thanks in no small part to you in blog-world who provided encouragement in a variety of ways. yes, i have readers – just not many commenters! 🙂

i’ve had so many different things just running through my mind randomly lately. i’ve been bemoaning my under-employment (i have a college degree and a job a monkey could do – seriously) and trying to decide what, if anything, to do about it. i say “if anything” because financially, this state was the right move for us. due to the far lower cost of living here, we are doing just fine monetarily, for the first time ever – in spite of my under-employment. i would love to go back to school, but do i want to pursue career retraining or do i just want to take classes because i like to learn? would it be wasteful to spend money on tuition when a) we don’t NEED to improve our standard of living and b) we have credit cards we are still paying off and c) we want to buy a house when we’re finished with that?

BUT HERE IS THE MAIN THING RUNNING THROUGH MY MIND, in spite of my attempts to dance around it!

last year, i confided in husband that i had felt the call to discipleship since the tender age of 13 years old when i began investigating the possibility of serving God in a vowed capacity. as a Catholic, i knew that my only option in that respect was to become a nun and to give up any dreams of marriage or family. it never felt right, though, and over the years and in between relationships, i corresponded with the vocations directors of several orders. it never worked out, and i think that was as it should be, because i met husband and had Boy-o, and they bring me so much joy. when we became episcopalian, i was confronted for the very first time with the possibility that i could become a priest. imagine – me, a woman, could become a priest! (if you didn’t grow up Catholic, sorry, you just won’t get how astounding that is) i met with mother barb and told her of my years-long search to figure out what i was called to be. i told her that no matter what i did to earn a living, i always had the nagging sense that i was somehow “off-base”, that while i liked all my jobs and did them all to the best of my ability and learned things from each of them, it was never quite right. i asked her if God could speak through a nagging sense, and she said, in effect, don’t rush anything. being a priest is a vocation, not just another job. she asked, what was it that i thought i could do as a priest that i couldn’t do any other way, and i answered immediately, (WITHOUT having rehearsed my answer, even!) “share the sacraments with others, and teach them how grace is present in them.” she said i was right, there was no other way i could do that, and that it sounded like i had a very sacramentally-based spirituality, and she told me to read – read anything i could get my hands on about theology and spirituality and sacraments, and she opened her personal library to me. then she up and moved to wisconsin a month later, to be closer to her grown children and to be vicar of her own parish.

when we moved to this state and joined st. p’s, i sat down with fr. m to introduce our family and chat, and i told him of my experiences with searching for my vocation. he in turn told me that the only reason to become a priest is if you can’t NOT be one, and that because the episcopal church does not provide any financial assistance for seminarians, the process can be financially very difficult on families with small children. i’ve been mulling over his words for 8 months now. what does it feel like when you can’t NOT be a priest? does it mean you don’t sleep? does it mean you get discouraged when you pray because the answers aren’t obvious? does it mean you constantly question where your life is going and what you can be doing to better serve everyone you come into contact with – how you can be a disciple? because i do ALL of that, and i still don’t know if i can’t NOT be a priest. for awhile, i thought i had come to some type of decision along the lines of, “you chose marriage and motherhood – that is your vocation for now. you can pursue the priest thing when Boy-o is grown.” but that thought now verges on unbearable. every time i kneel to receive communion, i am simultaneously filled with joy at the grace i am receiving, and despair that i may never be able to effectively share that joy with others- not just the actual physical sharing – i could be a LEM and do that, but by teaching inquirers’ classes and high school confirmation classes and…well, anything else anyone wanted me to teach. i just don’t know where to go with this desire. i don’t even have anyone to bounce any ideas off if. i desperately need a spiritual director, but i’m not having any luck finding someone, mostly because i simply don’t know anyone semi-local (and by that i mean in the state!).

i opened this post with the information that i had told all of this to my husband, and it really threw him for a loop. i asked him to think earnestly about the sacrifices a priestly vocation might entail, and to let me know what his concerns were. we talked – and talked – and talked, and in the end, he said he was behind me 100%, even if that meant great financial sacrifices to get me through seminary and even if it meant moving AGAIN, which i know would cause him great pain now that we have finally gotten geographically close to his family. after all the turmoil of the past year, how can i even consider that this might be what i want? and does it even matter that i want it? everyone talks about vocation in terms of what God wants, but i have always struggled with how to best hear His voice.

“and i don’t understand why i sleep all day, and i start to complain that there’s no rain, and all i can do is read a book to stay awake, and it rips my life away, but it’s a great escape…”

i’ve been bidding on coldplay tickets… September 13, 2005

Posted by introspectreangel in blogging, depression, family, lyrics, music, weight loss, work.
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…on ebay for about 3 weeks now, and today i just gave up. as i stared in abject horror, my bid of $43.99 FOR LAWN SEATS was jacked up to $125 in the space of 5 minutes. so i gave up. i figured it was God’s way of telling me to save my dollars for depeche mode tickets. 🙂

truthfully, i’m not in a good mood. i had a horrid afternoon at work with an obviously unhappy individual. i came home, walked in the door, and no one noticed i was there. so, i went out and sat on the porch swing and felt sorry for myself. i tried to have a good cry about it, but i couldn’t summon up more than a few tears. what i really wanted was a good old-fashioned bawl session in the arms of someone who loves me. what i got instead was a blank stare and the demand to know what was wrong with me. i’m tired of having to verbalize my feelings. i don’t want to own my emotions. why can’t anyone say to me, “you look sad, is there anything i can do?” instead of “what’s wrong with YOU?”

furthermore, i was reading my blogroll, and i came across a comment from my sister-in-law that she was afraid to post since i discovered her blog. it hurt a little bit, because i discovered her by accident and then made a point of commenting – kind of my way of letting her know i would respect her privacy and was no threat. and yet, with no malicious intent, without realizing it and without meaning to, i invaded it anyway, because she is now afraid to post. it just kind of contributed to the overall sense of “i can’t do anything right.”

i also feel cruddy because i haven’t been eating right. it’s weird how i can notice a difference in the way i feel when i go overboard on sugar via cokes, cookies, and candy. i’ve been bingeing the last few days, and my body is yelling at me to quit it.

i’m trying to get excited about our upcoming weekend jaunt home for our old parish’s fall festival (what could be better than a trip home with no family obligations!), but i’m having a hard time. i feel hopeless, and intellectually, i know i’m in the grip of a depressive episode. i could probably stand to get back on some medication, but if i do that it will be yet another way in which i’ve failed to control myself.

jeez, this was a cheery post, wasn’t it?

“I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
this is the dawning of the rest of our lives on holiday…”
-Green Day