Under the Apple Tree
the cure for a less than perfect day = puppies.

2012 and I are not quite friends yet.  I consider today the official start to 2012, because the 1st and 2nd days of this year were spent doing nothing - which, while enjoyable, doesn’t really add weight to the new year.  Today is the first day I’ve actually had to have personal interactions with people other than my husband and my dogs, and it isn’t going well.  

My first day back at work after a 3 day weekend and I’m finding silly mistake after silly mistake. Things that set the progress of not only my job, but other people’s work back. And I hate that.  It’s one thing for me to deal with my consequences, but to keep being reminded that other’s are dealing with them as well…definitely on the top of my list of things that are on the bottom of my list (does that make sense?).

And I think I could handle this all better if all my missteps/frustrations/general-grumpy-inducing-situations were work related, but they aren’t.  I can’t seem to get my footing in 2012, and I don’t want to start off the year with a rolled ankle.  

God bless my husband for trying to be the ray of sunshine bringing it around to a better perspective - which I don’t usually have trouble with. It’s part of who I am to see the bright side, but I’m tired.  I feel like 2011 worked me over enough where my sense of never waning optimism is now more worn out than the soles of a beloved pair of tennis shoes. Once unflappable - now a talking shoe, but instead of being comical, or sentimental and full of character I just keep getting my socks wet.  

2011 was a year of intense growth for the Taylors.  Stress piled up to the point of breaking on more occasions than I’m comfortable admitting. Change, disappointment, emotional exhaustion, and the natural progression of life in general forced us into new phases of learning about ourselves, our relationship, and our God. Don’t hear me wrong - so many good things happened in 2011. I wouldn’t give 2011 up for anything, but it left me wiped out.

I remember years ago listening to a sermon on growing pains, and how our spiritual growth can cause them just the same as when you were growing up.  I don’t remember experiencing physical growing pains as a kid, but apparently they are completely normal for about 25-40% of children.  As your body grows, it is not uncommon to feel pain (although there’s not great scientific proof that the growth of bones actually causes pain, but the development of muscles can.  I actually researched that - such a nerd). I now understand the pain of growth.  I would also venture to guess that spiritual growing pains are normal for at least 110% of everybody.  Everybody.  People who say that their lives are easier because of their relationship with Christ are lying.  I feel like that would be impossible.  If I am truly following in the footsteps of Christ, it had better be one of the hardest things I choose to do.  If my relationship with God doesn’t require a high personal cost, then neither of us is getting the most bang for our buck.  But I digress - 2011 was hard.

So I guess what I’m trying to do is have some perspective.  2012 isn’t necessarily bad - I’ve just got some residual 2011 on my shoes.  As soon as I can shake some of it off, I’m sure 2012 and I will be besties (did I just say that - who am I?).  Here’s looking at you 2012 - let’s do this.

My Favorite Day within an Unspecified Amount of Time

I can’t say my favorite day of the month or week, because sometimes I do this once every 8 days or 2.5 months. It just depends on how busy we are at work. And it’s absolutely silly - but I can’t help myself.

Once in a while I empty my two-hole punch and separate the colored pieces from the plain white ones.  Someday I’ll have a spectacular amount of confetti, which I plan to throw over myself upon my removal from this position.  Not that I’m planning on getting fired, leaving, or even looking for a new job - I just think it would be an epic way to celebrate the last time I walk away from here as a place of employment. 

Conviction.

I just had a terribly convicting car ride to work today.  Aside from acting stupidly, I acted rude.  Specifically, I honked and then proceed to flip off a (maybe) 14 year old kid who was walking in the crosswalk when I had a green light.  I drove away pretty happy with myself as he stared me down.  That’ll teach him to jay walk at 8 a.m. during my morning commute.  How hilarious of me.  Actually giving someone the finger for being a jerk.  And it’s two lights down that it hits me.  Who am I?!  That was an incredibly rude thing to do.  And how dumb was that?  Not to perpetuate stereotypes, but there has been a heightened level of gang activity in that particular neighborhood, and who knows if he’s someone’s little brother?  My fire engine red volkswagen beetle stands out in a crowd.  That may be me overthinking, but it’s a possible reality that needs to be kept in check.  But that’s not what’s bothering me.

A week ago my husband was given a short written piece about what we’re saying and what it says about us.  Two paragraphs that I’m constantly thinking about and sharing with others.  A week and a half ago I personally wrote a short piece about being disgusted by lack of action and what that says about us.  And today I flipped off a teenager because he was in my way.  That was the only interaction I will ever have with him, and all he knows about me is that I’m impatient and a complete jerk.  And what’s even a little more disturbing is what is going on inside of me if that’s what I can muster up as a human connection.  What are my actions saying about the condition of my heart?  What evil/angry/hurtful creature crawled into my heart and is now making decisions for me?  When did I let the structural support system that kept me compassionate and empathatic deteriorate so much that I would treat people like a road block?  And how do I change all of that?  It’s’ not enough to change my words and assume the heart will follow.  It has to be the other way around, but I’m afraid of what I’ll find if I go digging around in the muck of my life.  What’s hiding in there that has made me so bitter and cynical?

It’s a little funny, because I always thought this was a big duh for me.  You’re nice to people because you’re a nice person.  It’s a little scary to know that the opposite is true.  You’re hurtful/rude/negative towards other people because you’re hurtful/rude/negative.  I remember hearing that from a friend about other people, as in - if they’re mean to their waiter, they’re a mean person.  It’s not about having a bad day, or an off morning, or because something didn’t go their way - honestly speaking, it’s because he or she is not a nice person.  There’s something inside of me that’s mean/angry/rude/ugly/offensive/hurtful, and I don’t know where it came from or when I let it in.  And I’m afraid it’s made itself at home, and I know the excavation process is going to be painful.

Chutzpah.

Two weeks ago I left for a fantastic vacation.  It didn’t include much relaxation by anyone’s standards, but it was wonderful.  Family, friends, mini road trips (vacaception), and even a few excursions into the city I grew up near filled our 12.5 days on the ground. My husband and I visited new places, saw some of our close friends, and just enjoyed each other’s company away from the stress of everyday.  It was bliss. 

I could probably talk about my vacation for hours…days…until your ears were bleeding and you couldn’t take one more picture of my adorable 1 year old niece whom I’ve only met twice (hence the 90,000 photos).  But I won’t.  Coming home has been important in a lot of ways, but maybe most importantly it seems that daily I’m being gently slapped in the face to remind me/bring my attention to things I didn’t know I had gotten comfortable with.  Things that should bother me, make me uneasy, and ultimately have me questioning my contribution/indifference to the relationships around me.  And really trying to determine whether or not I have the chutzpahto have any positive influence on my surroundings.

I guess I have to start here: I’m pretty tech saavy.  And mostly what that means here in my office is that I know how to delete emails.  Not that there is anything incriminating about the emails that get sent out from my computer, or that make it into my inbox, but there’s a sense of obligation to keep the things that are private just that.  I know - if it’s private, don’t bring it to work and write it down so it’s accessible - got it.  However, there have been a number of conversations with coworkers where one or more parties have felt the need to keep it just between us, and there is no opportunity for a cloistered coversation in our house-like office.  Now that I feel like I’ve justified my actions - I delete emails.  Private conversations are cleaned from my hard drive as soon as they are read.   It is now important to note that in the context of this paragraph other people in my office are not tech saavy.

For two weeks someone else sat at my desk to access my files.  For two weeks someone else used my email to contact my clients, as well as other employees in the office.  For two weeks everyone knew that she was at my desk and not her’s, and subsequently sent their emails for her to my computer.  And I’m sure she thought she was covering her tracks, but remember - I’m tech saavy where my coworkers are not.  So it’s safe for me to assume that my coworkers only know the first steps of deleting emails.  The long-winded point I’m trying to make is this, I was searching for an email containing client information, searched in my deleted folder, and came across a hurtful/assuming/accusatory set of emails regarding another coworker - which made the rest of my day make more sense as the scales seemed to be weighted in her unfavor since I had come back.

I was so sad.  The truth is, we are grown adults who don’t know how to love each other well -and I’ve been okay with that for much longer than I’d like to admit.  I’m like the office water cooler - stand around me and loose your anger/frustration/gossip about someone else while I remain indifferent to your attitude.  Never contributing, never admonishing, never encouraging better behavior, and occasionally trying to throw in an uplifting thought about any party in question.  The truth is, if I did have the aforementioned chutzpah I would shake every person in this office by their shoulders and tell them plainly, You’re doing this wrong. You are destroying each other.  You can’t keep up like this.  Soon you’ll only have yourself to tear apart, and your seams are already too damaged by the constant jabs at everyone else to maintain their integrity on their own.

So there it is.  Learn to understand the weight of your actions - or inaction.  I feel like writing this all down is like yelling at a blank wall, but I can’t go back and change what I did or didn’t do.  And as frustrating as that is, the best I can do is turn around and walk away knowing that now I have to do it differently.  I have to consciously decide to let the words that come out of my life reflect aloud the meditations of my heart.

Love each other better.  And love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sin.

There’s chocolate on my computer…

Okay, so it’s not this bad, but I did just look down near the thumb-groove/lid-opening-notch/what-is-that-divot-where-you-open-your-computer-called (?) and found some chocolate.  I’m not proud of it, well okay just a little.  I’m usually much more careful when it comes to Mac-maintenance, but lately my mind has been in too many other places to notice things like stray chocolate ganache on my thumb.

The last two weeks have happily* been spent baking.  And for once, they’re baked items that are definitely leaving the house!  I didn’t think my at-home bakesale would take off with such a bang, but five cheesecakes, two coffee cakes, three chocolate cakes, a batch of cinnamon scones, and a whole lot of cookies later  looks like I was wrong.  Even though I’m not taking any of the proceeds home, it feels nice to know that I could be making a little extra money doing what I love.  Not the kind of money that would allow me to leave my nine to five, but just a little bit of confirmation that I’m good at what I do.  And I need that some days.  Okay, most days. 

*I will say, not all this baking has been sunshine and smiles. I definitely had what I can now look back on as a hilarious moment - but it wasn’t so funny at 7:15 in the morning - two Saturdays ago.  I destroyed - not ruined, not made poorly - DESTROYED a cheesecake that weekend.  Like an angry child at her first birthday party, I dug my fingers into the warm, should-be-set-up-by-now-but-isn’t (why isn’t it!!!) cake and flung fistfuls into the sink and trash can.  I think a few profanities were even involved.  After cleaning my hands I started laughing, maniacally.  It was so ridiculous. 

At that moment I hated everything in my kitchen. Why would I volunteer to spend five of seven nights a week baking for other people from six until midnight, when I had already spent from nine to five trying not to completely wear myself out at work?  Everyday I had a sink full of dishes, a dishwasher that couldn’t dry anything properly, and a longing to never eat sugar again.  My hands felt permanently dried out from all the flour and dish water, and I was doing laundry every other day because I never was any good at keeping all my ingredients off of whatever I was wearing. 

The truth is I acted too quickly. My sleep addled brain couldn’t process what I was doing, and meant that I was reacting poorly.  It meant I had to step back, breath, and remind myself that I really do love baking. The truth is when I’m really in my element doing the dishes and scrubbing the flour from under my fingernails doesn’t feel like work. It’s easy to make what you’re doing joyless, but it’s so much more fulfilling to remember why it brings you joy in the first place. 

I’ll get off my soapbox now, but there it is. 

Continuous.

A poem.  Written roughly two months after starting my new 9-5. It’s a little more disturbing than I’m used to. You’ve been warned.

Countinuous.

The other day I was looking for a file
and instead of finding it - I ended up getting a papercut
on the folders of the files that I didn’t want.
That papercut bled and bled.
I bled on the filing cabinet
the carpeting
my desk
the arm of my swiveling chair
the mouse
the keyboard
and finally, at the end of the day I bled on the power button of my computer.

I stood up to walk to my car at 5:02
but quickly met the blood soaked carpet. 
On the way down I reached for my chair to break my fall
but it was too slick to hold on to.

So I watched as the red that I had bled
spread to meet the walls at their baseboards.

The slightest throb of my index finger
brought my attention down my arm to see my newly dyed skin.

"You always did look good in red."

Arthur from accounting always had on the shiniest shoes
but almost never tied his laces.
The plastic end pieces swept across my back
as we exchanged goodbye’s for the night.
"See you tomorrow.  Tell your wife hello for me."

At-Home Bake Sale!

If you haven’t already heard, CrossWinds will be hosting a Feed My Starving Children (fmsc.org) event in May.  We’re so excited to have them back in California this year, and even if you can’t come and help pack meals, you CAN help us raise the funds to do it!!  I’m all for the exchange of goods for money, so let’s go with it :)  This year I’ll be hosting an “at-home bake sale” to raise some funds for this fantastic event.  Shoot me a text, or give me a call and let me know what you need.  I’ve got some great recipes that I’d love to share with you.  Just incase you need more convincing, check out the awesome cookies I baked this afternoon.  I’m thinking 24 cookies for $10 dollars, 12 cupcakes for $15, and cakes are negotiable, but will probably start around $25.  I’ll even deliver :)  Can’t wait to fill your order!!

Logic.

 

"So what you’re telling me is that if you threw a bunch of babies on the lawn, you wouldn’t give them milk?  You would deny the grass babies the sun, which is their milk?!"

Laughing, “No.  I’m saying putting grass seed out tonight would be fine, because the sun will come out tomorrow.”

"That’s not what I asked.  Let’s start over, there’s a whole lawn full of babies…"

Sometimes I Get Nervous.

Sometimes I Get Nervous.

My heart is pounding in my throat,
secrets swelling in my chest,
and the wafting smell of secondhand smoke
through the window leads me to a false sense of calm.

But I inhale anyway
hoping my nerves will subside. 

To the point

I’m starting a blog.  Not because I feel like I have anything particularly meaningful to share with everyone else, but mostly just to share.  God bless Tylyn for responding to my semi-weekly emails with a new piece I’ve written for his approval, and for his constant encouragement, but I think he needs a break.  Actually, what he said to me was, “I can’t be the only person who wants to read this.”  What a great compliment - huge points in my book.  

That being said, here we go.  Posting ahoy!