When I went through divorce, I was lucky. How do those two get paired together when divorce just plain sucks? Being surrounded by people and having lots of choices of activities and places to go – that is lucky. When what you are going through sucks, it helps to have a social network to lean on. That doesn’t mean we talked about divorce. We did at least check in with each other. I have written about this before, and I have been thinking about it again, because I wonder, where have all of the people gone?
To be fair, I am referring to a time between 8 or 9 years ago, and a lot has changed. So, when I say “people,” that does not mean all of the same individuals. What I do mean is “Why aren’t there a lot of people and activities now?” What is the difference and is it just me?
What may be funny is that these questions made me think about a poster I kept until a few months ago. My fifth grade teacher had us describe each of our classmates with something positive, and why the overall person “is my friend.” Other than the points about softball, I do not believe much has changed – “a good reader,” “is tall,” and “shares her things.” On top of that, I have nearly 700 “friends” on Facebook, plus people following me on Instagram, LinkedIn and here, on WordPress. What really matters to me, and has always mattered, is who I get to see in-person. It is a different type of connection than commenting, liking, or following people online. Telephone can be ok, too (did I really just type that?) IF there is a conversation involved. I have had calls where it might as well be the other person reading one of my posts and not typing anything (or liking). It’s all about the following. That might be acceptable if the person being followed is unobtainable, such as a movie star or TV actor. Different story completely – back to this one.
So here is the thing – my life overall is better because there is no divorce (or anything similar) happening, yet it is quiet. I have been talking about it for a while and have regained some meaningful interactions. These I look forward to, and I believe it helps that they are regularly scheduled over coffee or something similar. Still, I see others all of the time and feel like it does not matter. I share and am nice and my actions are genuine. I have not been in school since mid-April, so that gives me more time, right? I still feel as busy as when I was in school, just without all the homework deadlines or classes to attend. We all find time for what is most important to us, and sometimes that can be hard to balance. I do feel there are better answers waiting to be discovered beyond the excuse of “busy.”
Others must be noticing this phenomena in their lives, too. I have seen a few more posts lately that mention that texts and comments have not been enough. Real support with real people really matters. My favorite times are when I get to see friends, whether I know them well or not. The past couple of weeks have included several people who I had not seen in months. I loved all of the BIG hugs. It is not enough. I want to be as lucky as I was when going through divorce, as far as the social network.
People I have met more recently sometimes seem like they want to stay more of an acquaintance (and sometimes I want them to stay that way), even when we interact for several hours on the days we are around each other per week. I am not referring to co-workers, either. (I work remotely, so those interactions are going to be over email or messaging or the phone.) I mean, if my classmates and I could figure this out at 10 years of age, what has changed? Is it really about social media? On the other hand, different people who I have not known more than a couple of years are completely open and willing to have deeper discussions as needed. Sometimes, those are the highlights of my weeks!
Bottom line? If we really are friends and have not connected much (or at all) lately, time to add to the calendar. And, if we do already see and chat with each other regularly and consider each other friends, see you soon!
What are your thoughts?
In my last blog post, I mentioned “taking back my space,” and I have made a great deal of progress. On Friday, the Salvation Army picked up just about everything I had ready to donate, including the chair, futon and filing cabinet. What I really find interesting is that it feels like I moved. I didn’t change locations at all. In fact, one of my friends asked if I was moving, and another friend noticed my answer, so maybe it was a question that multiple people had. I am not planning on moving. Part of the purpose for downsizing is to have items left that I can move myself. Mostly, though, the donation is to be able to enjoy more of the space in my apartment. I live in a studio, and I have accumulated a lifetime of stuff, some of which I definitely do not need anymore. Getting rid of bigger chunks, such as the futon, gives room to work on going through the rest. And, just space to work or rest better. It is great!
The other part I find interesting in this experience is that I am reminded of my first apartment from over seven years ago. I had a lot more stuff and it was a one bedroom with a living room and a kitchen and a fairly big full-size bathroom. When I originally moved in, I did not have a bed or even a futon, since both were bought later. I slept in my sleeping bag, which was on top of an exercise mat. The floor had carpeting, too. After I had been there around a month, one of my friends lent me an air mattress until I had a regular bed. Since that time, I have lived in three different houses (all four of those were also with my cat). Although it is inside of a house, the studio apartment is the first time I am back to an apartment (no cat). I am also back to sleeping on the floor, this time on purpose. It is actually really nice. I stuffed a couple of blankets with throw pillows and wrapped my sleeping bag around all of that to shape it, then put another blanket and bed spread on top. After sleeping on a mattress in my last place, I don’t mind being low to the ground. I like that the space is mobile – I don’t have to stick with the area I chose for my “bedroom.”
My favorite part, though? The wall space to do the inversions I learned in Yoga 🙂
As cliché as it may sound, I am heartbroken over the loss of my kitty. In fact, although I always referred to him with “kitty” in his name, it was more equivalent to being the youngest or only child and being called the “baby,” regardless of the age. Whisker Kitty was just shy of being 14 years old when I had him put to sleep a week ago.
Based on the number of responses I had on posts about Whisker Kitty, I know many people relate. What is it that makes the loss so sad? Whisker Kitty was originally adopted while I was married. We had moved to the country and had mice problems. Getting a cat is what my (ex) husband suggested. I had never had a cat, or any pet, previous to that, since I don’t count fish. Whisker was about 5 months old when we adopted him from the 28th Street Animal Clinic in Grand Rapids. On the day we took him home we had to stop for supplies– food, a carrier, toys – so he sat in my lap on top of my winter jacket (it was December). Between being sick and scared, he defecated while laying in my lap. If that wasn’t bonding, I don’t know what is. Although I didn’t know much about cats, I learned along the way and we became best buddies. My “little buddy” continued with me on the adventure back to Kalamazoo from Gobles and even managed to “know” more humans he would hang out with when they visited.
It was not an easy road for either of us and it was nice knowing he would be around to greet me or guard or try to herd me towards wherever he wanted me to go. Although he actually had been sick for a while, it wasn’t painful and he didn’t exhibit any signs of being ill until I had to take him to the vet a couple of weeks ago.
The way I am handling this loss is to write and create an album. You are reading the writing I am sharing with the public. For the album, I can share the process and some of the pictures and background. Obviously, for a cat, there is only so much he did, and it would be true of all cats – eat, sleep, and play. He had favorite (indoor) spots, though, and favorite toys. Plus, we lived in four locations in Kalamazoo, with pictures in each. I am making a new digitally based album which includes scanning pages from his first “kitty” book and then adding more recent photos and stories.
My favorite pictures of all are the ones I managed to get of Whisker WITH me. It was not easy to do and every once in a while I would get a great one, including the one below taken on my last birthday. I’m hoping that like anything else, I’ll be able to look at these and smile instead of cry. How long does it take to mourn a pet? My house feels empty right now. I am guessing it takes as long as it is going to take, and eventually I will decide if another cat will fill the emptiness.
What is your story?
Thanks for reading! (and commenting/liking)
Whether you are in the Midwest or not, if it looks cold outside in this picture, you would be correct. It snowed most of the day and the high was in the teens. The windchill made it feel below zero at times. This didn’t stop people from participating in Kalamazoo’s 31st annual One One Run, though.
Several of my friends and I joined the crowd of people who decided to brave the weather and move by walking or running in the annual event. Participants have a choice of running or walking, and going around the course once for 2.2 miles, or twice for 4.4. The first time I tried this, in 2012, I walked. This time, I wanted to run. It is much warmer! Plus, the runners start first, and although I have run the distance of one lap before, I ended up switching off between running and walking. The course was snowy and the wind whipped pretty good at one point off the lake.
One of the greatest challenges with this weather is figuring out how to layer well. When I saw a friend there and asked to take a picture, I had to debate whether or not to remove any of those layers. Cheryl commented that we get to see faces. We were in a tent at this moment, and decided that it was not worth less layers for a picture. The range of layers and outfits was interesting to see, including some people wearing shorts. I kept pretty warm other than my nose. It probably took 10 minutes before I felt comfortable overall, and by the end, I was definitely at a good temperature and ready for the treats in the tent!
Five of us arrived together. Three chose to walk and Dave, the male of the group, ran two course laps. This was the third time Dave and Margaret (in front with glasses) participated. I was with them in 2012, too. Despite the weather and some of the doubts, we all had fun and enjoyed going. It is an untimed race and we are all listed as #1. Plus, as I heard someone on the course say, “You are first place in your name category.”
What are you doing to get moving in 2014?
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I don’t think I’d be a true blogger without writing something regarding New Years and resolutions. Since I don’t participate in resolutions, how about this: remember to breathe. It seems so easy, right? What we do naturally. Yet, on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis, I am reminded to breathe. Sometimes it is in my Yoga class and directed at all of us. As basic as breathing is, we still seem to want to hold our breath and, unless we are headed under water, what’s the point? Why do we stop and think that will keep us from moving?
What I try to do is change lifestyles. Sometimes, this is uncomfortable when going against the flow of others. For NYE, all I wanted to do was see friends and play games. I decided I really wanted to play pool more than board games, and one of my friends was the DJ nearby. The good thing about a dive bar? I could wear my hoodie instead of dressing up. It was a bit crowded for my taste, but I did stay long enough to play a couple games of pool with my friend Magic (yes, he is a magician!)
I also was able to see another friend at the same place. This was my favorite picture.
Bob liked this one better:
And, as mentioned, my friend was the DJ. It was a mix of karaoke and music (yes, I did a song for karaoke). The pictures came out a little bit strange because of the lighting. Here are a couple of them:
After all that, I decided to go down the road and sit with Tiffany while her boyfriend was the DJ. It was the same thing – music and karaoke mix. Another dive bar, and really, not my favorite type of place to go. It was all about the people, though, and everyone mentioned I don’t get to see very often or haven’t seen in awhile. The picture at the top of the post is with Tiffany. Here are more that include others sitting at the same table:
So, to bring this all back to the original point: I work on changing things in my life that will be continuous. Being reminded of something as basic as breathing on a constant basis seems to me like I need to change something or things so the breathing really IS more natural, and practicing Yoga is definitely a step towards that goal. The ability to chill with friends is another piece.
Do you make resolutions for the new year? If so, what is on your list or what are your other thoughts/comments?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)
One of the purposes for returning to school (again!) was to be able to write more since much of what I end up doing seems to return to what I write. Of course, being in school also means time includes focus on homework, which can take time away from blogging and other writing that I WANT to do.
So, here I am at home, for once, during the last weekend of school for the semester, enjoying the house I finished moving into barely a week ago. One of the differences between the two houses is that I no longer have an automatic dishwasher. This is not a bad thing, and if Abby is reading my post, I promise I am not asking for one. I mention the difference because it changes the process of how I have been doing dishes. I know. It’s not that complicated. Yet, a change is something I have to think about until it becomes the habit I want. Pondering the topic has made me think about my grandmother (Bubbi). Unless it was a big gathering, I don’t think she had a dirty glass or dish for more than 5 minutes. In fact, I’m not sure when she actually ate anything because she was always cleaning up after everyone else. Although I did not inherit the ocd-ness from her, and will never have a basement “clean enough to eat off of,” as my dad used to say, I still find a lesson here. Letting the dishes pile up just means that there is more to do, causing unneeded anxiety. A good process is to finish eating and get them washed. I mean, I am just one person. I can reuse many of the dishes from one meal to another. If I let them go, I’d be using way more dishes (and therefore washing way more dishes) than necessary.
If you have been following along in the last couple of months, then you also know that besides homework, I have been working on a business idea with the most recent name of “Hacker Gals.” Part of the history of the name decision is that the group of Gals are “do-ers.” They may not be happy about what they are doing. Yet, if it is a necessity especially, they carry on. Probably the first example of a person I relate to this who I haven’t acknowledged enough, is my mom. When I was 15 years-old, my parents separated, forcing my mom to return to some form of schooling and find a job. She had been able to quit working just before I was born and stay at home until that time. My mom took it in stride, though. She definitely did not like some of the places where she had to work, but she stayed on track, and she was always looking for the opportunities that would make her happier. At some point, she decided she wanted to sell the house, and that meant finding a job in the area where she wanted to move and then putting the house up for sale. I’m sure there are more examples in-between. Those are the ones that stick out in my head.
What does all of this mean to me? Well, I am not going to let my dishes sit and have to wash more of them than necessary, and I am going to keep doing things. What I do tends to include more social connections, which is a “Hacker Gals” benefit twist, and what I enjoy. I like to believe that “social” trait comes from my Grandpa. He was probably shyer than me, yet he was always involved in something.
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for reading! (and commenting/liking)
The Kalamazoo Holiday Parade was today. More often than not, I stay away from parades, unless there is a motivation, such as knowing someone in it. This one wasn’t going to be any different. As the date got closer, and also knowing that one of my friends was attending, I decided to go. Then I was invited to be IN the parade. This is also something I usually shy away from. However, I knew I’d be there, so, why not? It would help out my friend and his organization, and I couldn’t remember the last time I was in one. If life is meant to be full of adventures, then this would be worth it, to me.
Our group, Focus: Kalamazoo, was in charge of the Bugs Bunny float. You may have noticed in the first picture how tall he really was in comparison to us. The challenge for the group, which was even greater on a windy day, was making sure Bugs didn’t get decapitated by any of the wires or traffic lights. To do this, one volunteer was in charge of pulling the generator’s plug, causing the balloon to deflate. It was like Bugs was doing the limbo each time. There were also ropes to hold on to for steering. It was a fun experience. The three of us in back would catch the beat of the marching band walking in front of us, and use that to wave to the crowd in unison, or even break into a dance.
Probably my favorite part of all, though, was the person who came up to me, asked if I was “Stacy,” and introduced herself. Through her mom, I knew she was in Kalamazoo. The fact that we both ended up volunteering at the parade for floats that happened to be next to each other in the parking lot and her mom saw my post just before her text…priceless! (Hers was Strawberry Shortcake). I literally grew up with her mom, since we lived a few houses apart and started school together.
Everyday, really, holds some type of adventure. This particular one was not planned, exactly. What I mean by that is we reunited on the same bus which was taking us to campus. I hadn’t seen them since the summer, and we were used to weekly and sometimes daily, interactions. To make it even more fun, we happened to end up on the same bus heading off campus, too. The best bus rides, yet!
Earlier in the week, I had the chance to pitch again at Pitch Zoo. Members of the Starting Gate cohort had the first opportunity to practice their pitch because we are getting close to Demo Day. The idea was that those listening would be interested enough to find out more and attend demo day.
I had learned a lot since the first time I “pitched,” as told in It’s Not Softball. In fact, I felt like I had a better handle on what to say, and my energy was high when talking to my prof about it before class that day. All of that, and the fact that I knew everyone in the audience, did not stop me from being nervous. Somewhere between the end of class and the ride home, it appeared, full force, and I could not shake it. It didn’t stop me, and I am grateful for the support and feedback, and ideas to check out.
The suggestions I receive sometimes send me on a peculiar path. Many ideas have related to the structure of the organization, such as a building of resources with a staff, a version of a sorority, a gym, a community center, or a co-op working space. Everything but the co-op space I could completely discount, almost right away. I decided to look into the co-op structure further. It’s similar, in that the environment fosters collaboration of skills and knowledge. Trying to put it completely in that form did not fit, and I had to back off a little bit to figure that out. What I did conclude from all of these suggestions and the research was that my idea had always included a space, so this time, in the pitch, I made sure to have that part in there. One gold nugget sifted from the sand and caught a week ago.
Throughout this week, including my official “pitch,” I’ve been questioned on all sorts of points, including the space. So, more research, which also included, “why me?”
At first, I thought the answer to “Why me?” was my background of creating events, and my education. One friend I met with this week mentioned that I have a passion to know people and a genuine openness about myself. As part of what I naturally like to do, I connect people I meet, a facilitation, when I see a good reason. This translates to something I’d be good at doing as part of running this business. I may have figured out another answer, too, and I will know more in the next few days if I am off-roading again, or actually on a more solid path this time. Will you be back to read more? Please like (or comment), if so.
Thanks for reading!!!!
This semester, I feel like I have gone back in time, at least partially, and I think about that whenever I take the bus to campus. I am more like a current Freshman, walking around from bus stop to buildings, then any comparison to having been a graduate student through last April. I don’t even feel much like a Senior, which is my technical status. It mostly feels like I have begun again. In one way, I have. Since previous experiences do count, I’ll call it a transition chapter, and probably the most challenging to date as a student.
What I find even more interesting is that there are several parallels to what was happening in my life five years ago. First, I moved in October that year and had a stack of items which had fit into a house that were now sitting in a one bedroom apartment. It took awhile before I could find much of anything. Right now, I am packing and getting ready to move. It is from house to house, at least. The thing that is the same is the chaos and keeping what I need most away from what could easily get buried or lost.
In the chaos that I called my apartment five years ago, I had to find enough items where I could put together a portfolio for a Michigan Jaycees competition. I wasn’t sleeping well, mostly because I moved after filing for divorce. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing for the competition, either. What helped was that Neil, the President of the Kalamazoo Jaycees at the time, basically talked me through things. I had to turn the portfolio binder in earlier than the actual travel to the convention. Whatever the deadline was to get it to him, I probably made it just in time.
These days, besides school and getting ready to move, I am also busy with figuring out if my business idea is only that, or if it can go anywhere. As written in Checkpoint, I am moving along yet not too far down. It seems that in practice, I have become an entrepreneur, much in the same way I became a runner. I knew I was a runner when I wanted to, and actually did, run more than walk. How does that work for becoming an entrepreneur? I’m learning, stressed, sometimes happy, tired, and not sure at all if this is what is right. One of my friends said I have probably “hit the wall,” as marathon runners do. I’m also experiencing within a couple of months what he has felt for the last 12 years, Does that make it official?
Hopefully, the music and words will match well and whether the first or umpteenth time, it is heading in the correct direction and will not be so rocky.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!
Do you have a fear of public speaking? Although I am not 100% comfortable, the training and practice as a former member of a local Toastmasters International Club, a Kalamazoo (and Michigan) Jaycee, plus the many presentations while a graduate student in the MBA program all have helped. I look at nervousness as part of the game that reminds me to warm up in the bullpen before heading to the pitcher’s mound. Last night, I had a chance to put all of that practice together, starting as emcee, during a local monthly event called “Pitch Zoo.”
During the hour scheduled for Pitch Zoo is the chance for participants to listen to people “fast pitch” their new business or idea in three minutes, then get feedback from everyone else in a five minute discussion. The “pitcher” chooses who the audience is and what type of feedback is desired, such as the idea itself, or the delivery style.
When I originally went to this event, the structure reminded me of Toastmasters. The difference is that not everyone has had much practice with either giving feedback or making presentations. What the audience usually has is a desire to support others working on their own businesses, and that can contribute to a fun and relaxed environment.
Wait…fun? Relaxed? Public speaking? Did I really just tie all of that together? Once my nervousness subsided, I definitely had fun, and I did more than emcee. I ended up being one of the pitchers. The decision to pitch was made in the middle of the afternoon, right before I left for class, with the event starting shortly after I was done with class. Not much time to prep for an important speech! It’s a good thing that part of my training has been impromptu, and that I had a two mile walk to talk out loud any ideas in order to practice. I’m happy to say “I did it!” As emcee, I was also able to support one of my friends who pitched. We definitely earned our tees!
As far as what I pitched or the reason I did it last minute…stay tuned for that story.
Any thoughts or comments, especially on public speaking or new businesses?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!