Are you ready for Christmas?

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The calendar had barely flipped past November when I started getting the question.

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

Translation:  “Do you have all your Christmas presents purchased and wrapped, your house impeccably decorated, 100 Christmas cards sent, dozens of cookies baked from scratch, and holiday family gathering plans finalized?”

My typical response is, “Uh . . . not yet, but I’m working on it.”

What they don’t see, is that under my ugly Christmas sweater, I’ve broken out in red and green hives. Just thinking about the expectations behind the inquiry stresses me out.

One of my coworkers, however, doesn’t let it phase him.

It was only a few days into December when someone lobbed the question to him during a staff meeting. Without losing a beat, he responded: “YES, I am ready for Christmas.”

At first, we didn’t know whether to be impressed or jealous. But then he left everyone speechless when he stated matter-of-factly, “I’m ready because I have purchased zero presents and that is exactly the number I plan to buy.”

Inwardly I applauded his audacity for bucking the system.

“How nice it would be if ‘being ready’ didn’t equate to running about in a frenzy for a month and going into credit card debt,” I thought.

Then one day, I was poring over my mile-long holiday “to-do” list and flipped on the radio for some background music. As I numbly hummed along to “Joy to the World,” a phrase suddenly broke through and hit me between the eyes: Continue reading “Are you ready for Christmas?”

Recovering from sudden disaster

Not every storm has a name, like Harvey, Irma, or Maria.

Mine arrived without radar predictions or an evacuation warning.

An urgent voice on the other end of the phone said, “your house is on fire—you’d better get over here, NOW!”

Ash Gateway fire June 2006 police 290A few minutes later I found myself standing across the street from my home, watching helplessly as voracious flames consumed the roof.

The firefighters valiantly fought the blaze, preventing it from completely destroying the structure.  But what remained was damaged severely by heat, smoke and water.Ash Gateway fire June 2006 police 338

For the first time in my life, I was confronted with sudden disaster, devastation, and displacement.

There’s been a lot of that going around lately.  Perhaps like me, you’ve felt heart-sick over the string of calamities the past few weeks . . . hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes.

How do we recover when a major storm sweeps through our lives?

Continue reading “Recovering from sudden disaster”

Can’t get no satisfaction

I think I’m becoming a binge-watcher. Well, perhaps more accurately, a binge-recorder.

Dion-Freeview-Tv-Recorder320GBtwin-tunerpause-tvseries-rec-Monster-scart-_57[1]Lately I’ve been DVRing multiple episodes of TV shows in a row. I recently got hooked on the home improvement show, “Fixer Upper.”  Now in its fourth season, I had never seen it until a few weeks ago. (I didn’t discover Downton Abbey until its fourth season either—what’s up with that?)  But I digress.

Each episode of Fixer Upper draws me into the thrill of watching Chip and Joanna Gaines transform a dilapidated, outdated house into a show-stopper worthy of a cover on Better Homes and Gardens.  In the process, I’ve learned a lot about the latest trends in decorating.  (I confess, I had never even heard of shiplap before!)

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There’s only one problem. When I turn off the TV and look around my house, dissatisfaction creeps in.  I notice the outdated color pallet, the so-yesterday oak cabinets, and the cheap countertops.  I begin to envision what my little fixer-upper could look like if Chip and Jo got a hold of it.

But my life’s “reality show” will not include a visit from the Gaines’. Even if it did, I know that the results wouldn’t bring me lasting contentment.

Continue reading “Can’t get no satisfaction”

Staying afloat during a tidal wave of transition

A couple of months ago I shared the post, “When life changes – but you don’t want to.”

In it I described how a treasured boss would be retiring, and shared a few tips for coping with impending change.

th[2]This month the tsunami of transition came crashing down with full force.

Perhaps I was naïve to think I might have a few days (or even weeks) of calm after my boss’s last day to grieve and re-group before my world turned upside down.

That first morning, I quietly entered his bare office and was overcome with emotion.  The pain felt very much like when I visited  my father’s vacant home after he died.

I wasn’t alone in my struggles.  There was a subdued mood across campus, and a teary-eyed co-worker said it felt like the “heart” had gone out of the building.

Yet at 10:30 a.m. that morning, before we even had a chance to dry our eyes, we received the announcement.  Our new college president had been appointed and would begin in six weeks.

Instantly, the mantra became “moving forward.”

The world as I knew it shifted, and the flood waters of change rapidly rose around my ankles.

Continue reading “Staying afloat during a tidal wave of transition”

Why the election results won’t scare me

th10The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”  Most of us have heard this phrase from the famous folk tale “Chicken Little.” After an acorn strikes his head, the startled bird flutters about frantically, trying to warn everyone of impending doom.  Versions of the story exist in numerous cultures and go back centuries.

The 2016 United States presidential election has been  rife with Chicken Little claims, from both the candidates and their passionate supporters.

“If (insert candidate) is elected, then surely (insert calamity/tragedy) will happen.”

I’ll admit, I’ve had my moments of anxiety throughout this presidential campaign. I am both incredulous and dismayed that the best our electoral process could produce is the two candidates we have to choose from.

I’ve even whispered, “God help us if so-and-so is elected!” Continue reading “Why the election results won’t scare me”