Sunday, February 26, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

Tonight, as my girls & I were sitting down to dinner at our local Denny's, we noticed that a older gentleman came in & sat down behind us. This gentleman was about my father's age (60ish) and came in carrying a cardboard sign, a backpack and a duffel bag. He was dressed in several layers and looked so very weary. As my family went about ordering our meal, I felt compelled to make sure that this gentleman also had a warm and filling meal. I made my way to the hostess station to ask that a Grand Slam be added to my meal and that they not let the gentleman know who had purchased it for him. When the waitress brought over his tray full of food, I watched his face as it changed from shock and disbelief to pure thankfulness. He had tears streaming down his cheeks and he rubbed his tired eyes. Then, I watched as he crossed himself and said a prayer with his head bowed. I would like to believe that I helped to make his evening a bit brighter and let him know that kindness still exists in the world.

Over the years, I (either single-handedly or with my little family) have attempted to pay it forward or do random acts of kindness on several occasions. I really feel that I am blessed and that it is part of my obligation to help out those who may not be equally blessed just as others have helped me in times when I was struggling or hurting. I have purchased food for a homeless family, donated children's clothes & toys to a charter school for teen moms, helped local children have a gift to open on Christmas morning and many other things. I don't do it for the recognition, rather, I do it because it's the right thing to do and it makes me feel like I'm making a small difference in the life of someone who could use some happiness or good fortune.

The act of giving, of charity and of paying it forward is something that I am trying hard to pass on to my children. Hopefully, they are beginning to understand how blessed they really are to have the things that they do and the people in their lives who love them and take care of them. Coming home from dinner tonight, as I was explaining my actions to my oldest, I told her that it was my sincerest hope that she followed in my footsteps and helped other people out in any way that she good. Wouldn't you know...she asked if we could donate some of her toys and clothes to boys & girls who could use them. Bless her sweet little heart.

The world would be such of a wonderful place if everyone would just do something nice for a stranger, no matter how big or small. Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes and you never know how much of an impact that small gesture may have on that person's life. It's time to show the world that goodwill, empathy and charity still exists.

Monday, January 30, 2012

In A Nutshell

My first post for the new year and it's going to be a hodge podge of things...sorry about that...but I have a lot of things to talk about.

For starters, it's officially been a year since my divorce was finalized. Wow, I cannot believe it's been that long and in other ways, it seems like it's been 10 times as long. I remember, back in mid-2010, contemplating whether or not ending my almost 10 year marriage was what I really wanted, deep down inside. While cleaning today, I even found my "journal" that I used one snowy day in early 2010, to collect my thoughts in an attempt to decide on a direction for my life and my girls' lives.

Now, one year later, I know, in my heart of hearts, that I did the right thing even though, a lot of days, I have many doubts.

When I made the decision to end my marriage, my children and I left behind our life in suburban Denver for the small town living of the Western Slope. We truly got a fresh start. New town (though I "grew up" here and have lived here once before as an adult), new apartment, new schools, new job. I was (and still am) forging ahead, across totally foreign terrain, as a single parent. I remember, in the beginning, that it was all about survival, making it from one day to the next. Quality of life got pushed to the sidelines for awhile as we got our feet planted on the ground and comfortable, new routines established.

Soon, we will mark two years in our current apartment, two years of me working at a sub-par job, two years since our fresh start. I am proud of the progress that the girls & I have made, how far we've come. Our apartment is definitely home and while my current job is no where near what one would call a career, it pays the bills and gives me something to occupy my mind 4 days a week.

To say that I am "settling" for my current position would be a granduois understatement. When I graduated from college after working my tail end off for 4.5 years (including numerous internships and a wonderful work/study at the campus library), never did I envision myself, 10 some-odd-years later, working in a field totally not related to either my degree or my experience. My first job out of college had nothing (well, maybe remotely) to do with my freshly obtained degree in sociology but, it did utilize my 3 years of experience in the library realm. I loved that job and said job helped to begin my "career" in libraries. I went on to work in a prison (*gasp*, I know) library for a few years, further expanding my library knowledge and infacuation. When the decision was made for me to stay home full-time after Cara's birth, it was my every intention to return to library land once Cara was in Kindergarten.

Fast forward to August of last year where, try as I might, I could not find a library-related job in the small town that we live in. Heck, I couldn't find any job that would make use of my degree or experience. Thus, settling for the position that I now's a paycheck and that's about it. I regularly check the classified ads for our small town only to discouraged at the lack of openings. I also religiously check a site that posts library positions throughout the state of Colorado. I have stumbled across several position that I wish I could apply for only to realize, for all intent and purposes, I am stuck in this town, as wonderful as it has been, for several reasons.

1. I really do not want to move the girls, again, just when we have finally established a sense of normalcy here.
2. If we were to move where the majority of these jobs are (Denver Metro area), the girls & I will be on our own and, to be honest, that prospect scares me as, right now, we are so thankful to have my parents close by for moral support, babysitting and so many other things.
3. The costs associated with moving are just too great at this point. The actual move (renting a van, gas for said van) would kill me financially not to mention the costs of finding a new home and establishing child care.

All things considered, for better or worse, we are "stuck" here for awhile. There are good things about being stuck--great, supportive school for the girls, having my parents nearby, the actual town itself--so it's not a total bummer. I have, however, decided that someway, somehow, I have to get unstuck and to move ahead, instead of just subsisting. Even...if that means completely changing things up in terms of what I thought I wanted to do with the rest of my life (be a librarian) and investigate new avenues that spark my interest. Now, I'm still considering my masters in library science because that's still where I feel the strongest pull but, at the same time, I am thinking about what else might be a good match for me. More and more, I am becoming drawn to special education and therapy because of Cara and all that we've been through with her education. I have began to look into requirements for a special education teacher license and find it quite intriguing. I suppose, the possibilities are endless for a new career direction. Who knows what will come of it. In addition to discovering new avenues, I have also decided to being seriously studying for the GRE so that I will have one admission requirement complete if and when I decide to persue a master's degree. Baby steps are what I'm taking but it feels good to be going move forward.

Okay, I think that's enough for one post. More to come as I continue to collect my thoughts. :o)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's An Obsession

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? Please tell me that you have! It may just be the most addicting site ever to come to the internet--seriously! Think of it as on virtual cork board divided up into as many clever catergories as you can imagine. At first, I will admit to not understanding what all of the fuss & craze was about. But, as one after another of my friends posted about the marvels and gobs of time they'd seen fly by while day-dreaming away on Pinterest, I knew I had to check it out. I, not so patiently, waited for an invite to arrive in my inbox, and once it did, I took off running, setting up boards, pinning things right, left, and center. What would I pin, you wonder? Oh gosh, everything! I have a board for delicious recipes I've found (did I mention that I've rediscovered the magic of my crock pot?), one for things that I would love to have in my house, another for places I dream of visiting and yet another filled with photography inspiration. I'm telling you, the possibilities are endless and I could so-ooo-ooo easily see myself spending an entire day clicking through pages & pages of pins. How fun to have a way to organize not only practical things but also one's dreams. I like to think that Pinterest is making me a better person, or, at least for now, a better cook. (haha) Pinterest is also almost like a form of therapy as you come across something that just warms your heart, makes you smile or brings back memories of yesteryear. I came across a random strangers board of all things 1980's and found myself reliving memories of Saturday morning cartoons, charm bracelets, gummy shoes and the like. One of my favorite things to look for are new books to read. I have an impossibly long like of books that I'd like to read but, even so, my eyes just light up when I come across what looks to be another wonderful recommendation. One can never read too many books, right?
Oh, and did I mention that you can pin just about anything, from anywhere?! So, say you're browsing around on the 'net and come across something that just perks your can pin it and save it for all eternity if you want. Too cool!'s almost an instant "pick-me-up" when someone either starts following you (as long as you know the person, at least for me anyway) or re-pins one of your pins (meaning they agree that your pin is cool). I know, I know, I shouldn't have this crazy need for validation of my coolness. (haha)
There are times when things get stressful or overwhelming and curling up with my laptop and the latest "finds" on Pinterest sounds just the thing to make everything better. Hey, it sure beats other forms of self-medicating! So, if you haven't discovered the addicting joy of Pinterest, go check it out! You can find me here.


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