Jobless – Part 4

So it’s been since the middle of January since I had a job. Most days are still great. I know I am blessed to have this time in my life where I can regroup and start again.

Weeks like last week can be discouraging, though. Monday I found out that they had decided to not add the position I interviewed for the week before. It was one that I not only thought I would enjoy, but I thought I could make a positive contribution quickly. But at least for now that door is closed.

The rest of the week felt like I was in a hallway of closed doors. I just couldn’t find jobs to apply for that interested me. These are the discouraging times.

But as life’s roller coaster proves, down comes up. This week has seemed better. I applied for a job over the weekend and the recruiter called me on Monday.

A bit about recruiters, for those who have never worked with them. You have internal and external recruiters. Some large companies have people on staff who are their employees that actively look our for people to fill their internal positions. This seems to have increased in recent years. If I am applying for a job within an insurance company or a large consulting firm, for example, typically my first point of contact is with their internal recruiter.

External recruiters typically recruit for more than one employer and are employees of their search firm. In my world, they are usually the people who are going to be working with smaller insurance consulting firms or local brokers. They may also work with specialty vendors. Some work across industries, but most specialize in one.

Recruiters can be paid by the candidate or the company hiring the candidate. The majority that most of us use are paid by the hiring company, often at a percentage of salary for the person they place.

Anyway, the recruiter for that job called me and the interaction was atypical from those I have had with recruiters in the past. After a phone interview, she asked if I could come into the office to meet with her and possibly some of the other members of their team. Why, of course! I went the next afternoon.

Before I went I had to fill an application out for them (they had my resume, and while this duplicated some of that, it added depth.) I also had to do a personality test. I’m slightly fascinated by these, so was interested in how I would score. The test they asked me to do was the Hartman Color Code personality test. I’m a White. From color, they say “White are the peacekeepers. Peace: the ability to stay calm and balanced even in the midst of conflict, is what motivates and drives these people. They bring great gifts of clarity and tolerance and are generally kind, adaptable, and good-listeners.”

I was a Blue for a free one I found online. Both descriptions seem to fit. I’m haven’t read enough to decide which one I really think I am. You have secondary colors that can impact. I hope they give me more information on my results. I think you can learn a lot about yourself and other people through these things.

The in-person interview was very comprehensive. The recruiter explained many employers want to know if they have met the candidate. Since I had never met a recruiter in person in my career (from what I recall), I am sure this differentiates them in their marketplace. They only work local.,…they specialize working for insurance related-employers in NC and SC only. The process was quite painless, mostly because everyone I met was so nice. I felt even though they are paid by the employer, they are very invested in helping me find a job. Believe me, that’s a good feeling at this point. Especially since I would prefer not to move (though working in Charlotte is good possibility and I have opened myself up to that probability.)

One interesting dilemma. I was working with another recruiter on a job that sounded to be a good fit, but my initial phone interview was postponed to a later date, yet to be named. I did follow up with that recruiter the next week and he said they would keep me updated on what was going on. It has been a month since I heard from him.

This new firm also has a relationship with that company with the open job, but because of professional courtesy don’t want to step on the toes of the first consultant. I’ve told them if they could get me a meeting, I would appreciate it. A tip to recruiters and those who work with people in this situation. We need progress reports. We need attention. It is a vulnerable time. A month of inattention is interminable. I’m about as loyal as they come, but don’t have the luxury of unlimited time here.

So now I wait to see what these new recruiters can do. I hope they are successful for me, not just because I’m ready to find something (I am) but they are nice people who seem to appreciate that I have a lot of experience to offer. Hopefully they can sell that.

As for me, I continue to apply for jobs I find online and procrastinate on putting the other info recommended by my career counselor online. The rebellious procrastinator. But that will happen soon. I will try anything that can help. Within reason.

Many thanks to my encouragers. You’re helping making this time a good one. And those in my industry who have sent my resume to people hiring in their companies or mentioned my name to people hiring, or who did those darned Linked In recommendations they said I needed…thank you for supporting me during this important time. While I appear to be good at being unemployed, I have have more years of work to put in until retirement. I am praying those years are productive, let me exercise my purpose, and keep me challenged and growing. I also want to work with straight-shooter folks I respect, admire, learn from, and celebrate mutual success. That makes Mondays fun.


This Gun Thing

When I was in high school most pickups had gun racks in the rear view window. In those gun racks were guns. Many went hunting before coming to school in the morning. Some after school. We had to take hunter safety in PE, at the insistence of one of our coaches. I probably still have my patch where I passed the class. I rolled my eyes over having to take the class because I didn’t think it was necessary for me. It wasn’t, but it was for many of my classmates, so I get it. It certainly did me no harm, though I also never personally used the information.

I was not from a family that had guns back then (though most of my family does now), and I never spent one minute in fear that someone was going to go on a shooting rampage in my school? Naive? Maybe. But the fact that no one did, means fear would have been for nothing.
Most of my friends not only have guns, but many conceal carry. While I am in favor of this, I do admit there are a few that concern me. Sure, mental illness is a restrictor…. but what if someone has anger issues or is skittish or prone to fear or has times when they feel everyone is against them? There have been times that seeing certain people with guns in public has scared me. But who decides where the lines are? Even with some of the folks I know well, I wouldn’t want to make that determination. I don’t believe I would trust you to, either.

There are things that scare me more than guns. Terrorist bombs. Poison in our water or food supplies. Those driving while impaired….or while texting. Somebody running me down  me in a parking lot or while crossing the street (thinking of you, downtown Statesville drivers). I know more people who have injured innocent people with guns than have saved themselves or their families. I know folks who have been murdered….probably with legal guns. One was probably the act of a stranger (no one has been convicted) and another was a former boyfriend. But I don’t see the guns as the murderer….just the murderer’s weapon of choice. They could have been knifed or hit with a lamp or poisoned. They’d still be dead. That’s just my experience and thought process….yours could be different. It shapes our views. How can it not?

I’ve heard some folks put down the kids protesting our gun laws and not feeling safe in our schools. Agree with them or not, I will do nothing but encourage them. Get out there and speak your minds, kids. Tell people what you think..learn to articulate your thoughts. You may be right….but be open to being wrong.. You’ll be ahead of most adults with that one quality. I’m sorry you don’t see it modeled much.

I am hopeful that these teens are not only learning to peacefully protest, and link arms with those of like minds (and even engage with those who think differently) , but they will continue to exercise their rights. I hope they vote in record numbers…and pick better candidates. I hope they blow up our political party system, Agree with them or not, they are trying to influence our politicians and our world. Do I think they will be successful any time soon? Nope….because I cynically believe that something about being in public office makes ears and minds and even hearts close. Maybe the job and the number of opinions to sift through is just overwhelming. But I don’t see politicians listen to opinions of people well. I don’t see them trying to solve problems creatively….or even seem to understand what the real problems are. So if they don’t change, we need to change them. Because the symptoms are not the disease. Maybe the voices of these teens will resonate an
d get their attention.  Maybe.

I want dialogue. I want us to vote differently….grading politicians on how they listen to we, the people. I want us to figure out what is going on. Why do we live in such an angry country, an angry world? Why are there so many mentally unbalanced people? Aren’t those the real questions?

If guns are the problem, I would not be opposed to changing the Second Amendment. I’ve said before I don’t think guns are our primary issue, and I’m not a gun fan. Still I also don’t think any part of our constitution is so sacred it should never, ever be changed. Before you get up in arms, I like our constitution. I currently don’t think it needs to change. But I am open to it changing it if we decide that’s best for our nation.

What really need to be open are our minds. I love seeing some of my friends make bold choices and changes as they are actively working through the issues. Some are giving up their guns. Some are learning how to shoot better and safer. Some are securing their guns like never before and making sure they are not easily accessed, especially by children. Others are learning self defense….and learning how to defend others. I admire them all. They’re leaving their comfort zone and growing. They are taking it seriously. I suspect they will come through it more balanced and stronger. Hopefully their experience will teach us all.

I am not currently advocating for changes in gun laws, because I currently feel the problem is bigger than guns. That could change tomorrow. I listen to people on all sides of the issues and I am willing to be changed.

There seem to be so many scared and unbalanced people in our world. They….sometimes you…..scare me. Not obsessively, but for moments in time. But I still believe there are more people who are balanced, who will come together and soothe an angry world. I often mention the quote “Anger is fear disguised.” Let’s work to find the source of fear and soothe some angry souls,

Young people,with your beautiful passion…I pray you don’t become discouraged by the naysayers, the cynical, and the closed minded. Find those adults who are wise… will know them by their balance. Listen to them and learn. Ask them hard question and find the inconsistencies in their thoughts. That is how you grow your minds.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t change the world…..and that your fear is unfounded. You’re headed in the right direction. I am proud of what we will do together. Because you’re not in this alone. There are adults who are working for change. And while your innocence has been damaged and you may be scared, we want you to be able to go back to being kids. Strong kids. Kids that are both seen and heard. And protected.

Springing Forward

I hate springing forward. I know, I like what is coming. I enjoy having longer days and feeling like I am not driving home from work in the middle of the night. But tor now,
losing that extra hour of sleep, dragging around for a couple of weeks as I get used to the time change (yes, for some of us it takes that long)…it’s not fun.

When it gets down to it, I just am not the “spring forward” type. I have never liked jumping into something new. I like the way things have been. I like moving slow. Some people seem to spring forward into everything they do….I sort of hate those people. I am naturally reticent.

I am the toe in the pool type. It takes me about an hour to get my whole body in. Toe one goes first. Then the rest of my toes. Then my foot. I’ll put in one foot up to the ankle. Then the other foot. After an adjustment period I will go in up to my knee. I stay there a while. Take one more step down. Eventually make it up to the waist. That’s when it begins to feel especially excruciating. I stay there a long while. And so on and so forth. The only time I take a bit of a plunge is when the water is at my neck. Then, and only then, I may stick my heard under. Even then I will not like it. But a few moments later I am wondering why it has been so hard. Come on in….the water’s fine!

This is one of those things that annoys me about me sometimes. It would be one thing if I loved the process, but I am also naturally impatient and practical and this process takes precious moments of life. Why can’t I be the kind of person who makes a flying leap and jumps in? I have no clue. That’s just not me. I’ve learned that is how I was made. I have accepted it. And really….is it a big deal? I have to spend the moments of my life doing something. Eventually I can adjust. I am OK with it. Why must everything in life be a rush?

Overall I really don’t hate change. It is necessary for life. My friend Allie observed this weekend that  I will accept change that is thrust upon me, I just don’t go looking for it. That is the truth. While I am not going to hurl myself in the pool, if I happen to fall in I can handle it. While I hate time changes, and think they are a bit silly, it’s not ever going to be anything to which I give too much energy. It’s a minor irritant in life. Change is one thing that shows us that life is going on and we’re part of it.

I must add a disclaimer. Happening to fall in the pool is one thing. Someone throwing me in the pool is quite another. In either case I will eventually make the best of the bad situation, but they who throw me in the pool may experience a bit of wrath. I know that the Lord claims vengeance is his, and I am good with that, but I also think we’re a great team and sometimes try to help out. God eventually reminds me I am not needed and I am really not as good at it as he is so eventually I will bow to the master. I am getting better at doing this sooner. All in all, I will forgive, eventually. There are just other things I need to spend my time on and I don’t need that extra weight on my back. This human being stuff is complicated and difficult and a process….but really, it’s best to gain perspective on all of this sooner rather than later. Especially knowing our nature.

While I will never be someone who gets excited about springing forward, I will adjust. Possibly slowly. Let’s face it….what choice do I  have? We can whine about the situation or we can enjoy and explore the things that come to us as a result. If we move on ahead, spring comes. The warm breezes, the flowers, the rebirth and refreshment. I’d rather develop a plan to give myself what is needed now, to go to bed early as I adjust, and enjoy each day fully. The important thing is that we don’t try to stay where we are. The pressure of standing in the same place causes the rut to start to get deeper and deeper and soon we are in over our head, and life has passed us over in the meantime. So come on…. let’s spring forward! Join hands. One-two-three-go!

But I thought I hated it……

I really hated running. Every step I would run I would be reciting a mental mantra of “I hate this. I really hate this. I haven’t even run a minute? How can that be? How am I ever going to finish? I’d look like an idiot if I stopped now. Do I care if I look like an idiot? Why do I keep doing this to myself?” Those thoughts kept me occupied and if I hung in there, I usually would meet my goal for the day. I went from where a minute seemed to be a day to where I could run a 30-minute span and say “Yes!” While I never got that “runner’s high” others have talked about, there were moments of pleasure and accomplishment. But still, progress or not, overall I hated it.

So why did tears come to my eyes when they told me I couldn’t run anymore? I always would have thought that if someone told me that there would be tears of joy, but they weren’t. It made me sad. It frustrated me. I felt regret. Why is that?

Running brought good things to my life. I got to spend good quality hang-out time with friends. We had long conversations as we tried to build our bodies up, and in the process stayed in touch with each other’s lives. We wore tutus, were chased by zombies and rolled in the mud. I lost weight. I learned that time invested eventually paid off….but could be lost if not maintained. Running was an exercise I could do in my own neighborhood, or even on the treadmill in my own house. Running required good shoes, but little else in the way of equipment. It did the job and made it easy. Once I got a treadmill, I really had few excuses as to why I couldn’t do it. (Don’t worry…..I developed some good ones. I am creative!)

But the biggest impact running had on my life was the work it did on my brain. While my mind ran that tape of negative messages, the actual run negated them. Running reminded me that my mind can be my enemy. It is often a liar. My mind tells me I can’t do things that I later prove that I can. It tells me that I’m not good enough, don’t have what it takes to succeed, that I am not athletic and that is something you are born with….or not (I, of course, was a not). My brain tells me obstacles are insurmountable. It tells me that I am all I ever can be….that I won’t get better and if anything I will regress. My mind doesn’t always respect me, and yes, I would say that it even hates me sometimes.

The truth is that we’re more amazing than the limits of our mind. You’ve heard the saying “What the mind can conceive, you can achieve.” Another lie. We can achieve so much more than we ever can imagine.

A lot of us have minds full of negative messaging. I think some is innate. The biology predisposes us to think in a certain way. Think of depression. Think of our attitudes after a sleepless night. Think of the hormones of adolescence. We were a bit crazy at that time, for no apparent reason. I remember coming home from a perfectly good day if school, going to my bedroom and crying my eyes out, while thinking “Why am I doing this? Nothing is wrong!” I kept it to myself, but had I asked someone like the adult me, I would have gotten an explanation.

Some of us have spent a lifetime receiving negative messaging from those around us. Some mean to say negative things about us, yes, but the vast majority don’t. Or do, but wouldn’t if they knew the impact they really have one us. (Though never discount that there are some people out there who are either mean and/or unbalanced. They come with no rational explanation.) Sometimes we interpret subtext that isn’t there. Sometimes we bear the brunt of their own issues…they feel bad about themselves and want us right there with them. Sometimes they think they know us, know our potential, know our character, and know our weaknesses. They may know something about us, but nobody ever knows everything about us. We forget they are only human, and their judgments, like our own, are limited. Some may be based on truth, but not the whole truth.

Running showed me I could do something that I thought was impossible. I remember the first time someone called me a runner. It was a casual reference they made to someone else, which made it all the more special. It wasn’t pandering to me. That is how he thought of me. He saw me run, no matter the quality, and to him I was a runner.
I also did have the naysayers (or nay thinkers). Friends who would make veiled comments about my lack of potential. I finally got so I would say to myself “Yeah, I used to think it was impossible for me, too.” Once again, their issues, their opinions….not necessarily truth. But for every one of them, there were probably five who said “Of course you can.”

I never wanted to be a runner of any great caliber. I liked it simply because it was fast and efficient and effective exercise. I ran worse in the few races I ran in than I would run on my own. My best running was in private. I liked the runs I would do in my own neighborhood . I found people would often discourage or intimidate me more than motivate me (this was not their fault, but once again the fault of my warped mind). It was in my neighborhood, all by myself, that I first ran for thirty minutes without stopping. It was my neighborhood that I built a personal routine focused on improvement. It was in my neighborhood that I celebrated most of my victories, alone and quietly. It was in my neighborhood that I could throw shoes on, go outside, and start fighting to win the battle in my mind. It was in my neighborhood that I could quiet myself the best and actually acknowledge the humorous mental battle I had going on in my head.

My body has been incredibly healthy all of my life. I’ve never gotten a stitch, never broken a bone, never had an injury that made me have to do more than limit activity for a day or two. When I started to have problems with my knees, I never thought it was anything serious. But when the pain got worse, and the x-ray showed the damage was not something that would heal and go away, I was told running would lead to a definite knee surgery. Therefore, no running in my future, since I am surgery adverse. There are many other exercise alternatives certainly, but it will take a while to find something that will give my body a quick and sufficient workout as effective as running, So I mourn a bit.

The news that running was not part of my future was grim. I will miss it, even though it was such a hated activity in my life. Currently I am undergoing physical therapy, to strengthen the muscles in my legs so they can support the bum knees for a long time to come. I know I will be able to hike and kayak and do many of the other things that I really love (but which haven’t brought as much instant gratification in weight loss!) I will learn ways to strengthen the rest of my body. There are many, many possibilities….some which I suspect I will enjoy more than I ever enjoyed running. I’ll find something that will again test my brain in its life-long conviction that I cannot do athletic things.

But the lessons I learned, I carry with me. No one knows my full potential but God…..not me, not the “experts”, not the people around me. As long as I live there will be tests to show me how to get better at all of the different areas of my life. Most of these will require I exercise (or is it “exorcize”) my mind. I could do as some running friends have suggested and just ignore the views of the medical professionals and continue running (some actually said “Knee surgery isn’t that bad”), but there are times you ignore the experts and times you listen and re-adjust as a result of their wisdom. God nudges us sometimes to head in a different direction, and I have experienced that enough in my life to know sometimes heading in another direction is best, even if I don’t always understand why. So I may not be running, but the adventure continues. Good things are ahead. My feet…and my knees… will still be taking me places I have never been before. Hopefully for a long time to come, because I intend to enjoy the journey.

The "Come To Jesus" Meeting To Which You Are Not Invited

From time to time, OK….really often, I have to have a “come to Jesus” meeting. Seriously. Truth is that sometimes I forget that between me and God the conversation is usually supposed to be all about me. Or about me and God and this relationship we have.

Now it’s not that I think God doesn’t want to hear my prayers for others – for those who are sick, or those whose lives are headed in the wrong direction, or those who are struggling with life. But how often are my prayers for others and how often are they about me? When I talk to God about others, what is my purpose? What is my commitment? Am I deflecting a higher calling? Am I avoiding a look at my own heart?

While sometimes our prayers can change God’s direction, I think often we pray with a very shallow purpose. We pray to be considered “nice people.” We pray to get our way. We pray to give God our side of the story, so we can tell ourselves we’re right. We throw up prayers like popcorn, hoping God catches a kernel in his mouth, but really expecting that he won’t. It’s almost like a party game. “Lord, heal my friend.” Then we kinda think “Prayer prayed. Cross that off my ‘to do’ list. Now I have fulfilled what I said I would do. I can now say ‘I have been praying for you.’ Nothing else for me to do here. When they are healed I can say ‘I helped!’ But really it looks bad. Probably nothing positive going to happen there!”

But really, are these the kinds of prayers that moved God in scripture? If we were God, would those prayers impress us? I don’t think so. I think those prayers can be considered cheap, if not worthless. Mocking God.

Take that same prayer, “Lord, heal my friend.” What if we prayed in such a way that it really directed our attention to God at work? What if as we prayed we promised God that we would watch as he works in that person’s life and the lives of those around them? What if we promised to acknowledge God if that person is healed? What if we asked God how we could help that person or their family or perhaps others in their same situation? What if it moved us to change who we are and how we live? What if it drew us closer to God? Wouldn’t that give that prayer some depth? Another layer of purpose?

My heart breaks as I look at this world. My heart breaks as I look at the lives of those I love, especially those who seem to be on the wrong path; who seem to be making decisions that will do nothing but hurt them and hurt others. The truth is, though, I (we) can’t change other people. Ever. God gave them the freedom to live lives of truth or lives of lies. They must make the appropriate decisions to change themselves, they must make the decision to thumb their nose at God or surrender all they are. There’s something quite freeing about that when I have it in proper perspective.  I can pray and trust God can handle the situation. With or without me. I can be willing to be used by God in people’s lives, but have to acknowledge when I try to change people under my own power, it usually doesn’t work out. God doesn’t necessarily need to use me in everyone’s lives that are around me. After a while you have to surrender your perceived control and say “God I trust you to lead them. To let them hear your voice. Please do the same for me and teach me to follow you.”

The second part is the hardest part. It means our focus has to change to living the life God  wants us to live, and not the one that comes naturally. That which comes naturally usually takes us in the direction of our own desires, and not God’s. One thing I can promise….if you do God’s way correctly, you will not remain in your comfort zone. You will not be able to coast on your strengths… will be challenged to let God work through your weaknesses. You will not have time to pass judgment on others. In other words, you will not be the Holy Spirit of the world, the nation, your neighborhood or even your own home. You will  be a person of opinions, someone called to speak when they feel they have no words or aren’t especially good at it, and you will be fully involved with the problems of the world. Because if you are God’s person, justice, love, peace, forgiveness, and mercy are the foundations of how you live. Those things require that you give up your comfort, and challenge the person you think you are. It requires you not live in a righteous little bubble, but engage with the world.

Those who follow God surrender their “rights.” They realize it’s not all about them. They don’t compare what they have been given with those around them, because the truth is they have enough. Whatever it may be. Our purposes are different. Our mission fields are different. Our strengths and weaknesses are going to be used differently. All that we are, and all that we aren’t, is by design. Some of us may think we have good reason to whine, but one thing I have found….however little that I may think I have, there always seems to be someone with less. However inept I may think I may be, God can work through it. Needs are great, and God meets those needs in interesting and unexpected ways, through not-so-interesting-but-incredibly-amazing people who are willing to be used. OK….even through the unwilling and kicking and screaming folk!

I have said before that I’m not a “good Christian”. Maybe no one is, but from my eyes it does seem to come more naturally to other people than me. I’m a rebel by nature. I’m not even a “good Christian” on my best days. In fact, I hate….yes hate….the phrase “good Christian”. It puts a pressure on us that I don’t think God intended. It makes it about us instead of God. Truth is, the greatest story of scripture is that we can’t be good enough…..and we don’t have to! Pressure off. Time to move on in spite of it.

I’ve always been quite aware of the level of my sinful nature and yes, I can probably beat you. I’m fortunate in that I was aware of God at a young age and he’s had my attention ever since. But one thing I have learned…..I must stay on a short leash. I am the person in that old hymn you may have heard “prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

So frequent “come to Jesus” meetings are necessary where we talk about me, and how I fall short, and what I need to do to get back on track. Where I don’t blame others for who I am or what I have done, but accept responsibility for the ways I fall short. Where I remind God of all I am not, and he reminds me of all he is. Where he reminds me that there is no valid excuse to disengage or insulate or live a life without purpose. Where there is no valid reason to disrespect people, or be unkind, or be less than I was created to be. Where there is no excuse to not stand up for what is right, honest, just and true. Where he reminds me that since I am His, he’s got me covered. Where I am weak, He is strong.

I am sorry that I can’t invite you to join us in my “come to Jesus” meetings, but if I did I’d probably want that time to be about you. Because it’s much easier to talk about what you need to do, how you need to be, and where you fall short, than for me to face the reality of what is expected of me. 
But go ahead and set up your own “come to Jesus” meeting. No appointment necessary, though you may find you need to make one. Because God, he’s ready to talk with us at any time. We, however, tend to get a bit distracted. When you meet, it’s important for you to talk about you. More often than not, only about you. If you listen carefully you will get some great guidance pointing you towards a life that will fulfill all of your innermost wants and needs. Bitterness, self pity, fear, anger….they will all fall away. You won’t have time for them. The plan for your days will probably not be what you ever expected, but will be so good. Breathe it all in, and let your life exhale grace. You will be changed. The world will, too.
“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.
Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.”
                 Robert Robinson/John Wyeth

A New Year of Auld Lange Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.  


I found myself singing this song this week, as we do at this time of the year.  I know this is a song of the Scots, but even with my Welsh heritage I realized I didn‘t really know what most of it means.  I knew it is talked about remembering the past and moving on to the future (I saw “When Harry Met Sally”) and also picked up there’s a bit of drinking going on there.  But why that song to end and start each new year?
I’ve always been a bit cynical about New Year’s, but yet I also get a bit emotional. I’m pretty sentimental and personally I want to hang on to the old year.  The moving forward stuff… I’m not always sure that is what I want to do.  Not that I am opposed to change.  I rather like it.  But a whole new start?  Nope….not usually what I want.
I don’t like resolutions and don’t ask me to make any.  Resolutions aren’t usually good for me.  I’m a rebel.  If I set myself up with a lot of “have to’s,” after a while they get on my nerves.  They become chores….regardless of what they are.  Even if I was the one to make the “have to” list.  Oh, I would keep the stupid resolutions, but I would grow to hate them.  As soon as the year was over, they would be gone by the wayside.  I don’t like to make promises and not keep them, and while that is the New Year’s tradition for others, it‘s not a habit I want to get into.
Yes, I do plan to do some things better.  December is a time when I fall out of a lot of routines (some because of my own negligence, some because we stop everything for the holiday) and really….do I need to spend all of my year eating whatever I want and not exercising?  But I am not giving up sugar in January as many others are, I am not going on a strict diet, and I am not putting immense pressure on myself to come up with bunches of new workout goals.  I want to live my life in moderation.  I want to eat well, because I feel better when I eat well.  Plus, having been raised with a good foundation of nutrition, I crave healthy food.  I want to eat at home more, and not in restaurants often, because I eat healthier when I am at home.  And I want to get in better shape….because I want to fight this aging stuff.  It’s time….I have neglected it long enough.  But I will not make promises about it and put myself under any crazy pressure.  
I’m signed up to run a 10k in April, and I want to run all of it (or at least most of it), so I will probably do a decent job of getting back on track with my running.  But I also plan to drop my Y membership….I am not going and find that for me it’s not what I need right now.   I need to be realistic about what is working for me and how I can make things easier for myself.  And I need to be responsible with my money and not spend it on things that I am not using.
It would be great if I made a resolution to completely clean my house during 2013 and actually follow through, but we all know me….if I have two choices and one is cleaning my house, I will almost always choose the other.  I don’t honestly see that changing.  My closet needs to be cleaned out….there are clothes I have not worn in ages, and probably never will again, but there they sit.  They take up space and I selfishly hoard them…..when someone else just may like them or need them.  But still….while I want to take care of that, I will not promise to do either of these things.
While no true resolutions will be made by me, when I looked up the modern translation for the lyrics to Auld Lange Syne,  I decided I like the attitude of the song.  One thing I can resolve going into the new year is to try to keep to its spirit. 

Long, Long Ago (Auld Lange Syne….in our English)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,

From long, long ago?

And for long, long ago, my dear
For long, long ago,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago

And surely you’ll buy your pint-jug!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
For long, long ago.


We two have run about the hills
And pulled the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many’s the weary foot
Since long, long ago.


We two have paddled in the stream,
From morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
Since long, long ago.


And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!
And give us a hand of yours!
And we’ll take a deep drink of good-will
For long, long ago.

So, on this New Year’s Eve I will remember those I have loved who no longer live on earth.  I will be grateful for the times we shared and remember that the great gift they left with me was not anything material, but instead was the memories we built.  I will try not to feel cheated for the days we didn’t get, or regret what we didn’t do, but instead appreciate the precious moments that we lived together.  And when I do things that they would have enjoyed, or something they would appreciate brings them to mind, I will smile to them.
I won’t forget those I love who are still around and will try to increase the memories with those who care to join me (I have learned that this is something I can’t force anyone to do.)  We will travel the world, we will run, we will walk, we will wade, we will paddle, we will pick the flowers, we will eat, we will drink, we will work, we will increase the kindness, we will lend a hand when needed.  We’ll be good friends and good neighbors and good family members. And we will smile to each other.
I will continue to work on that relationship with my “auldest acquaintance”…the God who made me and try not to be a stranger.  I will take the hand that is offered and not do it all alone.  I will accept the love and the gifts given and will smile with gratitude.  
The years pass too quickly, but each new one we get is precious.  This should be the year we live how we would live if today really was precious to us.  Extremely precious…worth something.  Because it is, isn’t it?  It is my new year’s hope for you.  For us all.  In memory of those who left this earth before us, and even today teach us how to live well.

Happy (and precious) New Year!!!