Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Events of the last week...

Jon and I after I completed the certification tasks
March 21, 2010

Gosh, it's been a week. I was trying to post more often, but last week was crazy. As I mentioned, I was taking a SCUBA-certification class (so I can dive with Jon and his friends up to 60 ft.). The class was Monday-Thursday nights, and Saturday and Sunday from 8-noon.

I was scared. All week. To the point of being ill. I barely ate last week. Lost 5 pounds. But I did it. I got in the pool, went under the water, and didn't freak out too badly. There were a couple of moments that I was a little uneasy, but it got better each time.

Saturday morning was the first ocean dive. To 25 feet. Doesn't sound like much but I had psyched myself out bad for it. I mean, I was so ill that I didn't eat at all on Friday except for like 6 pieces of shrimp...We were at a birthday party Friday night and I didn't eat a single cupcake! Couldn't.

The dive turned out to be more labor-intensive than I expected. (Imagine walking in the sand, which I am not good at already, with approximately 25 lb on your back and another 21 strapped to your waist.) We swam from shore to the dive site (and back).

When it was time to go down under the water, I did. And it was like nothing I ever expected.

Instead of being scary, it was beautiful and serene and quiet. And there was peace.

I wasn't afraid to fill my mask with water - twice - to prove that I knew what to do if it flooded accidentally. I wasn't afraid to take off my gear and sit on it at the surface, to prove that I could get out of it if I was stuck and needed to get freed. I wasn't even afraid to take off my weight belt - the bane of my existence in the pool exercises - and put it back on securely without losing it to the sea or holding onto something or someone.

It was an amazing day.

Then Sunday, the last day of class, we dove in the ocean again. I held a starfish and a sea urchin. I saw turtles swim by, unaffected by my presence and my awe. I posed for pictures with my friend and dive buddy, Ken, and even a picture with my husband. (A big thanks to Ken for dealing with my nervousness and my questions, and helping me find the calm to get it done. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect dive buddy!)

It was a surreal moment - one I'd never ever dreamed for myself. To perform the tasks calmly, to survive in the sea for a short time, and feel that peace.

Ken(R) and me at the bottom - March 21, 2010

I never knew what I was missing until I let myself experience it. It is an unexpected accomplishment that I am so grateful to have completed.

And, last week I was contacted by my manager at work, to tell me that there had been some complaints about my involuntary layoff and that they wanted me to stay until May 31. This doesn't change anything else - I will still get severance at the end, I will still get the other benefits. I just get a regular paycheck for 2 more months.

I didn't think I would be happy about this - after all, I had made peace with the layoff and was actually ok knowing the end date was soon. But knowing that someone fought for me to stay a little longer means the world to me. It feels great to know that someone took a stand and pushed for me to have a short reprieve. I know who started the campaign for my extension, and I am forever grateful.

When the announcement came in early 2009 that my team would be moved to Iowa and we'd be displaced, I prayed and prayed that I could stay until summer 2010 so that it would coincide with our move, and so that we could get our affairs in order and be as prepared as possible for the chapter that comes next.

This extension gets me to that goal.

I am amazed constantly by the power of prayer. I don't mean to be a worrywart. I guess it's always been easier and safer for me to feel disappointed than to feel hopeful. But I am always redeemed. God hears my prayers and even when I don't hear the answer, it is there. I have learned over the last few months to chill out a little and relax. When I relax, I can hear the answer and feel better about what it means. A little chill is all I can manage right now, but it seems to be helping. (Baby steps, right? I mean, it took 38 1/2 years to build up this level of worrying. It won't just stop overnight.)

God is great! Thank You, God, for looking out for me and for helping me this past week. I don't feel like I say it enough, how proud I am to have a relationship with You and how grateful I am that You love me and care about me. Thank You!

And thanks to you - friends, family, readers. I am grateful for each of you!

Happy Tuesday (and LOST day!)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

First night in the pool for scuba class tonight...

I started the Open Water Diver course yesterday. It's a 4-evening class - 2 nights of classwork and 2 nights in the pool - and then 4 dives over the weekend to get "certified".

Tonight is the first night in the pool. I am a bit nervous, I have to admit. My only other experience with scuba went badly.

You may remember the story. The short version is basically that I went on a boat dive with Jon, and I'd had no training, and I sorta wigged out. I didn't feel good about the equipment and the breathing underwater, and I definitely didn't want my mask to flood with water or to take the breathing regulator out of my mouth. (Both of those tasks were required before you could actually start the dive.)

Since that time, I have snorkeled quite a bit, and really fallen in love with it. I am more comfortable with having my head in the water for longer periods of time, and swimming on my own. But, there were a couple of times on Sunday (my most recent snorkeling experience) that I did surface to fix a snorkel issue or just get oriented. That's not as easy to do in scuba.

However, I still have that experience in the back of my mind and it makes me nervous. I am worried that I will get down in the water, have to perform a task and freak out. I hope that the time in the pool tonight will calm my fears, give me some confidence, and allow me to relax and enjoy this experience. I really want to like it. (and I really don't want to freak out.)

There's just that fear. Have I mentioned that I worry a lot?

So, if you're reading this before Tuesday night, send me some good vibes.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Patience is the order of the day...

Ugh. I have never been a patient person. Not patient enough, anyway. When I ask for help (which is pretty much almost never), I ask because I need help now. When I ask the kids to empty the dishwasher, I mean I want them to do it now. When I ask Jon to clean up the junk he leaves in his wake, I want him to clean it up now.

Patience is not my strong suit. It never has been. And two things are bugging me lately...

First, waiting to find out where and when the Army wants us to move is excruciating. We have never found out our next assignment so close to PCS time. (And I say "our", not Jon's, because this affects the lives of all 5 of us, not just Jon.) I could start networking, sending resumes, and finding out where the good school systems are. We could plan the island-hopping cruise we so desperately want - no, NEED - to take before we leave this beautiful state we've called home.

Second, I have no patience for the end of March to get here, when my job will cease and it will all become someone else's problem. I have a bit of "short-timer's disease". I just want it to be over. I don't want to slave away anymore for a job that is dumping me in just a couple of weeks.

***A funny little story - the company that is dumping me like yesterday's trash (along with 3,000 other hard-working individuals) gave me a performance bonus yesterday. The highest amount that I have ever received in my 5 years with them. Sounds backwards, but for this company I can totally see their logic. Not.***

I take comfort in the fact that their ridiculosity will pay for our aforementioned Island-Hopping Cruise for 5. Thank you, ___!

Anyway, those two things cause me the most stress right now. And I am trying like crazy to have enough patience to just push the stress back a little bit. Just a little. But if you know me, you know it's hard for me to let things go.

But today I strive to find the patience. To just be.

I have continued my workouts, though on the elliptical machine this week. It's been rainy and gross here, and I enjoy the elliptical because it forces me to keep going. (When I run outside I sometimes get lazy and slow to a walk because I don't want to push myself enough.) On the elliptical you can't. I mean, you can, but then it starts blinking and the lights change and it's like the machine is mocking me, taunting me. I can somehow always manage to find the willpower to get through the whole programmed workout without slowing down and making it mad. Been on it 4 days in a row now...and it helps with the stress and makes me feel accomplished.

Now if Jon will just stop calling me in the middle of the workout everyday...hee hee.

I made a small deal with myself that I will do some things for me since I'll have weekdays free. So I am working to get in more workouts every week, and I'm planning to take some computer-programming classes (my true love), and next week I'll be taking open-water scuba diving certification class. (I'll fill you in on that one next week!)

Well, back to the grind that is my work-life. I hope that the next job I find is one that I like a whole lot better. (Being let go opened my eyes to the fact that I don't really even like this job, I just keep it because it's convenient and close to home.) Let's hope these programming classes open up my job possibilities...

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recycling comes to Kapolei...

When we lived in Germany 10 years ago (geesh, that makes it sound like a lifetime ago), I was pleasantly amazed at how serious residents were about recycling. Granted, I think there are laws implemented there to enforce it, but after we got over the shock of how EVERYTHING is recycled - they even compost in each neighborhood - recycling became an easy, natural way of life.

Then later we lived in Tennessee, where you have to take the recycling to the recycling centers yourself, we incorporated it into our lives and it just became part of what we did every month. The kids helped and enjoyed it.

When we found out we were moving to Hawaii, I guess I assumed that recycling would be an easy, natural way of life here, too. I mean, it's an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Since there are limited places here to store garbage, I guess I just assumed that recycling would be prevalent - no, WANTED - in order to keep the island clean.

I was sad to find out that not only is it not easy, there is practically nothing that is recycled (except bottles and cans that have deposits, which 15% of people don't even do!). There are bins at some of the public schools to take glass, plastic, and paper/cardboard, but they don't take colored or glossy paper (like magazines or grocery store ads) and the only cardboard they take is corrugated (so no cereal boxes, Capri Sun boxes or soda can boxes...)

What's the point then?

Well, I guess Hawaii has decided to make some changes. Changes that I am potentially really excited about. I don't know much about this new program, but today we are receiving blue recycle bins (the size of trash cans) for recycling. I hear the program starts during the first week of May. I don't know what will be eligible for recycling, or how often they will be collected, but I am excited that Hawaii is starting to see what recycling can do for them.

People are often surprised when they come to Hawaii and see that parts of O'ahu are really dirty, slummy, littered, and basically un-cared-for.

I hope this new program will change that.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Shari!

My sister Shari celebrates a birthday today.

I haven't seen her in person in more than 2 years. But I miss her everyday. She has a laugh that is infectious. My mom used to say when Shari was little that she smiled more than any other kid she'd ever met. She never lets life get in the way of her happiness, not when she was a kid, and not now.

Shari's a happy person. And so giving. She'd give you the shirt off her back, even if it meant she'd freeze. She's just that way. And did I mention her laugh? It's one of my favorite things about her.

Happy Birthday Shari! I hope that whatever you have planned for today is full of fun and celebration. I hope you get to take some time out for yourself on your special day.

I love you. Have a FANTASTIC day!

Friday, March 5, 2010

100th Post!!

I've made it to 100 posts. I know there are blogs out there that are updated everyday with witty, insightful information. Blogs that inspire you, or educate you, or suprise you.

Mine isn't one of them. (Well, I don't think it is...)

It started out as a way for family and friends on the Mainland to stay in touch, to see pictures of the family and our adventures. and to feel like we were together even though they're thousands of miles away.

It became much more than that, to me. It's been a way to chronicle pieces of my life. To work out feelings. To get past tough spots, and to document the unbelievable (great) ones.

I only have a few followers, but they provide me guidance, encouragement, and confidence.

We're leaving Hawaii soon (well, in the next few months), but I'm planning to continue the blog. Maybe even make it better.

Thanks for sticking with me. For sharing the good times, and the bad ones. And for being out there. Here's to 100 (or 200) more posts!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The tsunami that wasn't...

As promised, I wanted to chronicle last Saturday's events - the tsunami warning we never saw coming.

The day started at 3:00 am for Jon and me. The phone starts ringing. I immediately think it's work calling, and remember that my iPhone is most likely on "silent", which is why the house phone is ringing. We never get called in the middle of the night, on the house phone, unless it's work. Since I hadn't been laid off yet, I ran downstairs to try to catch it in time before the voicemail kicks in.

I see it's my friend from across the street calling, to ask if I'm awake. "No," I say, it's 3:00 am, of course I am asleep. Well, trying to sleep. The idiot neighbor behind me is loud, drunk and obnoxious this night, and I have already awakened several times to find out what the heck he's being so loud about. My friend says a friend from the mainland has called - the mainland is reporting of an earthquake in Chile (which I'd heard on the news the night before) but that the aftereffects of this earthquake are a potentially sizeable tsunami headed straight for the Hawaiian Islands.

WHAT? I am immediately startled and panicked. I turn on the TV, and as Jon rolls over to head back to dreamland, I relay the information I've just heard. The news states a tsunami warning is in effect, that the sirens will start blaring at 6 am, and that all listeners should get their Emergency Kits together and prepare to head inland for the next 6-10 hours, maybe more. (What emergency kit??)

Just as I start to really panic - a TSUNAMI? - the phone rings again. It's the mother of another friend (from down the street) - I didn't even know she knew our phone number, as she's calling from the DC area... :-) She can't reach her daughter, whose husband is away on lengthy military business. This friend was literally scheduled to move THIS SAME day, so her phone is at the other house, her cell phone is dead, and no one can reach her. I tell friend's mother I will drive up there and make sure she's awake and aware.

So, by 6 am I have already driven to a friend's house and induced panic there, driven her to the new house, helped her gather her animals (scattered between the old house and the new), gotten gas for the car, and driven back home. Jon's awakened the kids, prepared the stuff we're taking with us, and updated our Facebook status so people know we're aware and OK but can't take calls.

The sirens start at 6. Here I was, prepared for the sounds of an air raid. After all, we're trying to wake well over a million people to tell them to head for higher ground. On a Saturday. The sirens are wimpy little whistles that last for no more than 2 minutes.

Since we're already aware of the situation, we pack the car and turn on the TV for further instructions. They say to stay put, our area's in a "secondary evacuation zone", so we'll do more harm than good by heading out. Jon, ever the voice of reason, decides to invite all our neighborhood friends over for a gigantic breakfast.

Turned out to be the best decision of the day. We eat, laugh, watch the kids play, and ride out the "warning" as it turns out to be nothing more than 1-foot waves. Three hours later the warning is canceled, streets are reopened and we go on with the rest of the day.

It was another day to add to the memory bank - "what were you doing during the tsunami warning of 2010?" I tell my friend across the street that we'll laugh about this 15 or so years from now when we're assembled for Alissa's wedding.

My other friend's move was rescheduled for the next day and went off without a hitch.

Thankfully we were protected that day. Hawaii's last tsunami, originated from Chile in 1961, took 61 lives and destroyed millions of dollars of property. I can understand the hype, the preparation, the alerts. I'm just thankful it turned out differently this time.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Well, it happened...

I intended to write today about the "tsunami-that-wasn't" scare that we had on Saturday. I will still write that post, but for now I am consumed with the fact that "it" happened.

My job gave me the heave-ho today. Well, me and a few hundred others.

I knew it was coming. I knew. And I have 30 days to find a miracle reprieve. Another job in the same company. I've been looking for a year. These next 30 days aren't going to bring a miracle. At least not at that company!

I have people there who care about my future and support me. People who will be references in the future.

But it doesn't change the heartache I feel. Not about the company itself, though. Just that I have never been let go - not fired, not laid off. It sucks. I feel like a failure and like a deadbeat. Like I wasn't good enough.

It's all about money and the bottom line. I know in my heart I gave my all. I don't think it's personal. But it still hurts. A lot.

I worry most that I won't be marketable somewhere else. I have skills, but some that I haven't used in several years. I worry that no one else will see my worth.

I guess that's all I have to say. I have been crying for an hour and I guess I just am done with that for now. I will probably cry all day, and for the foreseeable future, but mostly because I hate the unknown. And my job future is unknown.

Besides my crappy employer and my pending unemployment, life is awesome. Truthfully. Had a fantastic weekend and spent it with my dearest friends here on the island. It was such a fun time.

You can expect my tsunami post soon. Now that I will have a lot more time on my hands. (At least now I have more time to improve my running!)