Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor --
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back.
Don't you set down on the steps
'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
Don't you fall now --
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
When my father passed away, he had a conversation with my mother where he told her that he did not feel he had the wisdom that usually comes with being 60 years old. Honestly, I think that this statement shows that he did have the wisdom. I think that dad had learned that there are no answers or templates for success. There is no permanent security to be found in life either through wealth, people, or things. The one thing that is guaranteed about life is it's ever changing nature. Dad was wise, but he did not know it because it was not the type of wisdom he was searching for all of his life. Life "ain't been no crystal stair" for him, but he just kept climbing. The reward is not necessarily answers or wisdom, but adventures and experiences.
In my own life, I have found myself constantly searching for some type of security and answers in this world. I have looked for it in jobs, houses, bank accounts, and people. What have I learned? Jobs come and go, and the atmosphere can change with just a different administrator or co-worker. Houses are just temporary dwellings. In fact, there is nothing that we own that can't be taken away from us in minutes with a match or a natural disaster. We need to look no further than September 11th to prove this fact. At one point in my life I thought I had found the house I would grow old in, then I moved to Oregon. Ahh, change. I also learned that money is a very fluid thing because it comes and it goes. Finally, I have tried to find security in people, but have at times been disappointed. Don't get me wrong, there are some very loyal people out there that you can trust and believe. Of course, I have also met those people who aren't worthy of trust and sell their friends out with the blink of an eye. I would like to think that when I meet a person now I am able to better judge their character, but then maybe that is just me trying to find security in my judgment.
I have even tried to find security through education and degrees. Did I tell you that I have a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, tons of experience, and that I'm still looking for a job?
Where does one find security and answers? I don't know. I have some suggestions that work for my life, but they may not be the right answers. I have listed them below:
1. Faith in yourself. I know that I can't control change, but I can control my responses to it. At this point, I believe that I can handle anything that comes my way in life. There were a couple of points in my life when I stared into the abyss, and I was able to turn around and walk back into the land of the living. I have faith that if I end up looking into that darkness again, I will be able to turn around and work my way back to the light.
2. Religion. Some people, including me, find security in their religion. It works for me to believe that there is someone in charge over this seemingly constant and random change.
3. Adventure. Look at life as a huge adventure with no real winning or losing. Life is about the people you meet, the things you do, and the places you go. It is about getting out there and exploring, learning, and growing. Life will throw you change and adventure every time you turn around, so embrace it and enjoy the ride.
4. Appreciation. Appreciate what you have in life when you have it. This includes people, money, jobs, and houses. You may not have them forever, so enjoy the time that you do have with them. This is still one of my hardest things to do in life. I sometime have such a fear of losing someone or something that I don't enjoy them in the present.
Life "ain't been no crystal stair" for anyone, but the wise ones just keep climbing. It doesn't matter how much money you have, or how devoted your friends are, life can still be hard and challenging. The only thing we can control is our reaction to it. I don't have the answers. Check in with me when I turn 75 and maybe I will have the answers to life and understand the source of security, but I rather doubt it.
I had a realtor once who refused to work or take calls on Saturdays. She made this quite clear when she signed up my property. In fact, she said that she would work 150% on trying to sell my house the other six days in the week, but on Saturday she wouldn't even take my calls. I discovered that she was a very successful and focused realtor. What was her secret? I believe it was time off to refresh and recuperate.
In the biblical sense we are told that the seventh day is to be a day of rest. I believe our ancestors were much better at adhering to that rule than we are today. Honestly, we just can't help it. For example, working parents often use the weekends and Sunday as a time to catch up around the house. It is a time to do laundry, home repairs, house cleaning, and then they try to squeeze in some quality time with the kids. My hat is off to them, and I am amazed at how well working parents juggle everything. Isn't it sad that we have created a society where people work so hard and so much that they can't take a day off to relax and recuperate? During the campaign, John McCain kept saying how America has the best workers. That may be true, but it is sometimes at the expense of our mental/physical health, functional families, loving relationships, and quality of life.
I think our bodies, and more importantly our minds, were designed to have time to rest and recuperate. Life is already short enough, we shouldn't make it any shorter by stressing ourselves to death. I wish I could follow the message in this post, but it is Sunday night and I have laundry to do, dishes to clean, and maybe if I hurry I can get the bathroom scrubbed before bed.
Enter the Portland Chinese Garden.
Take a walk down one of the many paths.
Enjoy the foliage on your stroll.
Take a rest by the waterfall.
Enjoy some traditional Chinese tea at the Tao of Tea. The options are almost limitless.
As you leave the gardens, look around at all the unique rock. This rock is very rare, and it comes from the bottom of only one lake in China. Actually, the rock has all been mined out of the lake.
1. Get out of the house. In the morning I get myself ready, straighten up the house, and leave by 8:45 with my boyfriend. He heads off to work, and I head to the local coffee shop where I search on the Internet for job openings. Finding employment is now my job.
2. Network. When I was quizzing a very wise friend of mine about what I should do to get a job she said, "Network, network, network." I have taken her advice to heart and have attended conferences/trainings, organization happy hours, and currently I am looking into volunteer opportunities. I have met some wonderful people with great suggestions.
3. Optimism. Be good to yourself, and keep your mind on the goal. There are enough people out there who will try to tear you down or say derogatory comments about your employment status without you doing it to yourself. We are in the middle of a financial crisis; your unemployment is temporary and doesn't say anything about your or your abilities.
4. Research. Find the websites that work for you and check them daily. Currently I check out the following:
County office, university, and public school websites
5. Detail in Writing. Do not use a standard cover letter. Instead, write each letter individually to meet the job description that you are applying for. In
fact, tweak your resume each time to match your experience with the job description.
6. Dream Job? Now is not the time to go searching for your dream job. When the nation is facing a financial crisis of this magnitude the important thing is to just have a job.
7. Hobbies. I have found too often in life that a job has defined me as a person. Think about what happens when you meet a new person. One of your first questions is what do you do for a living. It's true. This time off of work has been a time of reflection and renewal for me. I have rediscovered some of my past hobbies, and I have picked up a few others. When I go back to work now I think I will be a better rounded individual with a healthy balance between my personal and professional life.
8. Organization. For me organization has meant having all my transcripts, reference letters, resumes, teaching certificates, and application information all in one place where I can easily attach them to any e-mail or job application.
9. Risk. At this point in the process, I am constantly considering how to take a risk and stand out from the others who applied for the position. Recently, I have been sending personal follow up letters via U.S. mail after I applied online. Many of the ads say they do not want phone calls, and I respect this request.
10. Questions. Everyday I think of questions that people would ask me in a job interview, and I consider how I would respond to those questions. I want to be ready when an interview does come my way.
Mike and Ben (Yep, we made it to the top.)
Scenery from the trail
Ben at the top of the falls
Looking down from the top.
The beginning of the falls
They symphony opened with Mozart's March in C major, and then progressed to his Symphony No. 40 in G minor. After a brief intermission, we were fortunate enough to hear Jun Isawasaki's debut. He chose Erich Wolfgang Kornigold's Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra. He was incredible. He coaxed that violin to play music worthy of a heavenly host. A the end of the piece, people were on their feet immediately clapping and cheering. After that, the night was ended with Salome's Dance by Richard Strauss.
Everyone left with smiles on their faces and a song in their heart.