When life throws you lemons, thank it for the snack

Friday, May 27, 2016

New Beginnings

Like most of you, I'm sure, my life has been a series of new beginnings. I prefer to think of the beginnings instead of the endings. Each new beginning presents an opportunity to take a different turn on life's path, or to continue on your merry way.

Almost all of the significant new beginnings in my life left me with excitement, but also some anxiety and trepidation about what was to come. Quite possibly the only new beginning that did not fill me with as much anxiety as excitement was becoming a mother. I felt ready and willing from the start.

Starting high school was great because I had the opportunity to leave behind the childish harassment (today it would be called bullying) of elementary/middle school. It was scary, though, because I knew no one; I didn't even have the benefit of my brothers in the school because it was an all-girls high school.

I started college half-way through high school. This was especially exciting because it was a full-scholarship and I knew my parents really couldn't afford to pay for this education. It was anxiety-provoking because I was leaving behind an almost familial-like group in my show choir. I was poised to take on more leadership responsibility in the choir and here I was essentially abandoning them to pursue my college career.

Moving to Florida to continue college was a significant beginning. I've now been in the state for about half my life, the other half being spent in my home state of Texas. Florida brought me my first job (a work study position), my completed education (bachelor's degree and two master's degrees, continue education in faith formation), the chance to start my own family, the first steps on my path toward teaching, and helped me continue to develop my persona and become a much more solid individual.

Today I began a new leg of my life journey with the start of a new job. This is the first permanent, full-time position I had in my "career" to date. The majority of my positions have been on contract and/or part-time positions. I'm actually looking forward to turning this opportunity into a truly permanent thing. Stability is something that I sorely need in my life right now. I am, of course, a little anxious because it is a new type of work for me. Yet, I choose to focus on the opportunity this new position represents for me and my daughter.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Helpful Strangers

I don't have much vehicular know-how or skills. I can change a tire, pump gas, refill the windshield fluid, and replace my wipers. Beyond that, I am clueless when it comes to my car. Maybe I picked it up from my mom, but I also have the mentality of running my car until it's on its last bolts. It's been a year since I got an oil change because I face the daily choice of either feed us or pay for car maintenance. The main reason I keep fueling my car is because I need it to get us everywhere. It's probably a good thing that my car is not a living, breathing organic being because then I'd be hauled away on abuse charges. When it comes to anything going wrong with my car, I have endless anxiety. I am also eternally grateful that God has so many kind people on this earth.

My first vehicle was a Honda CRV. I actually wrote a grateful blog post about it when it was traded in. Sam worked well enough, despite my use. I actually took it too much for granted. My first ever flat tire was a memorable experience. My then-husband refused to leave his board game day at the comic shop to help me change it. I never changed a tire before. Luckily, I had maybe a mile to drive home from the ballpark (my daughter had softball practice) to home. I got Sam in the driveway and proceeded to pretend to know what I was doing. I got the car up with the jack. I was almost proud of myself. But, I had a hard time getting the nuts loose from the tire. An older gentleman from across the street came over & helped me out. He also taught me to loosen the nuts BEFORE I elevated the car.

The next time I got help with my car was when the brakes fell off of Sam. For a couple weeks I had been hearing grinding noises every time I stopped. I didn't know what the sound was. My daughter and I were just leaving the driveway to go to her soccer practice when a rather loud clang came from the car and I couldn't get it to move any more. I called my then-husband for help. He refused to leave his D&D game to come help me, or at least get my daughter to soccer. Another neighbor saw my predicament, helped me get Sam back in the drive & off the street, and even drove us to soccer practice.

Last year, I was driving along a street here in Orlando that takes a weird twist from a two-lane to a single lane right after a light (intersection). I wasn't paying close enough attention, probably talking with my daughter about her day at school, when I missed the street & hit the sidewalk/curb. I heard a frightfully loud noise and immediately knew there was something wrong with the tire. I managed to pull over into a small parking lot to assess the damage. The 2-week old tire had a gaping hole in it. Before I could even get started on changing it, a man pulled into the parking lot and proceeded to do everything for me. He even used a small pump to put air in the spare, which was apparently too low to use. That oopsie, by the way, ended up costing around $700 because the axel was bent out of shape.

Maybe I look complely helpless when I'm next to my car. I don't know for certain. I do know that I needed to inflate my tire for quite a while, probably at least 3 months. I didn't realize just how low it was until this morning. A man parked next to me at the building where I have a temporary assignment. He told me my tire looked really low and offered to use his portable pump to fill it. My tire is supposed to have about 30-40 pounds of pressure for optimal running. It had 18 pounds. Who knows in what kind of trouble I would have found myself if he hadn't decided to help me.

I know it's easy to be cynical. I know the world can be a scary place & people aren't very nice to each other all that often. However, sometimes I find myself the recipient of true kindness, at least when my car is in need.