Thursday, May 26, 2016

16 years of lessons

I have worked so many jobs in the last 16 years that one might get whiplash trying to keep up with my work experience but I will say that I have learned something from every job. And now as i'm about to step into a new season without bosses and time cards and steady ready paydays I wanted to take a moment to commensurate on those lessons. 

Childcare- this was definitely my first job, before i could drive me and my sisters would go door to door in our neighborhood with our babysitting flyers and offer our expertise! Then being a big sister to many small foster kids who shared my home growing up, then as a worker with my mom in our home daycare, then as a temp/vacation nanny and then part time to full time live-in nanny. I would say this is the job that comes the easiest for me, kids are fun and easy for me, yes they can be hard work but the day to day of being in childcare, it was easy to see the impact I was having, easy to see that the love i put into my job was being soaked up. 
from this "job" i learned that when all else fails, making up a silly story and singing a silly song almost always works. a day outside is never a waste. the smallest moments can become precious treasures in you memory. i learned creative problem solving and pretty decent fort building skills. i learned that crafting is the best kind of play, magazines are meant to be cut up, crayons are meant to be dull, and white is meant to get colored. i learned that it is fully 100% possibly to fall in love with a child that does not belong to you and want to protect them, guide them, teach them and love them. and i learned the art of goodbye and how hard it is to let go when the job is over. 

Retail- I love people so it was no shock that I did so well at retail, I have a positive, happy, energetic personality so I was a natural fit to greet and ring people up, to help them find a style or size or show them where the clearance items are. My favorite thing about retail was the chance to work along side so many different people, to share our stories with one another, to cultivate friendships that I may never had outside of the job. 
what i learned from this job was that a smile really does go a long way, I learned that in retail there is endless possibilities to organize/and that this makes my heart happy, I learned that i have amazing folding skills (though you wouldn't know is by looking at my clothing pile, lol). I learned that is is possible to get a very angry person who wants a return and can't get one, to calm down by showing them that you care, and understand and are willing to do everything in your power to try to assist them. I learned that alot of people go shopping when they are having a bad day and that me, as the retail worker at the place they are shopping, i had a chance to make that day better by genuinely caring. I learned that there are alot of people who do not take pride in their work, that there are alot of people who see numbers and percent signs and not people and I learned that life is far to short to let other decide and dictate my mood. 

Photography- I remember my first "fancy" camera, my uncle (the photographer) gave it to me for Christmas, it was a film camera, before digital was affordable to normal people, it looked so cool and i felt soooo very cool when i carried it around. I was in high school and i remember learning all the technical stuff about where to set your subject and how to get the best lighting, how to convey emotion in a photograph. I cannot count the number of photo jobs i have done, I remember most of them, everywhere i go i see potential photo shoot locations and i learned an awful lot from this job too- 
from behind the lens I have the amazing ability to make someone feel beautiful, so zoom in on what they see as beautiful in themselves and to bring out the shine inside them. I learned that the best gift for a mom is a candid of their child, happy and silly and all them, that an un-posed moment, an unprovoked expression and an otherwise ignored detail can become a cherished memory hung on the wall. I learned that weddings are stressful. I learned that the back sides of buildings and tops of parking garages and forgotten little corners make wonderful backdrops. I learned that i love editing photos almost as much as i love taking them. I learned that i was not charging enough for my services and then i learned that I was happier as a hobbyist photographer and not a professional. (also learned that second scooting is the bomb) 

Call center-
I learned that if you communicate that you are listening, and you really listen, really try to help, then most of the time (not all) an angry caller will calm. I learned that despite the urging to end the call sooner, I couldn't reconcile providing less than my best for people who needed it so desperately. I learned what it felt like to be seen as a number. I learned the toll a stressful job can take on your life, your weight, your sleep. I learned that a higher pay is NOT worth it if you hate the job. and i learned that life is too short to stay where you are not thriving.- I also made a lot of great friends here, and had alot of great team leads, and this company did open the door to insurance for me so i am very grateful for that. I learned that even in the painful, uncomfortable seasons, God can use it to work something great in your life. 

Overnight (3rd shift) - while i did work plenty of overnights at kohls (mark downs and holiday) and loved them, it was not until Walgreens that I really committed to this lifestyle (for 7 long months) and learned the lessons that it had to offer. 
Here I learned that even a 10 hour shift can go by quickly if you stay busy, that there is almost always something that can be better organized! I learned that a smile and a kind word really does go a long way, especially in the middle of the night or the start of the day. I have learned that if you set a bell on your counter, and you are nowhere to be seen (in the food isle checking for expired dates) 95% of people will not ring that bell, I have learned how gross people can be (yup cleaning bathrooms was on my list), I learned the names (& cigarette brand) of my regular customers and they learned mine, it was a weird little "family" and my time as part of it was brief but I will carry the lessons with me. And I met a wonderful soul named Andrea, she worked for 14 years for Walgreen, she trained me, in my first week and when I switched to nights, she would be my relief in the mornings. Andrea had Cancer, she'd beat it once before but it came back. I remember having conversations with her, she had a very deep relationship with Jesus and we talked about how she was going to win either way- if she lived, and beat it again, she would have more time with her family, but if she didn't, if cancer killed her, she would get to be with Jesus, and see heaven and be pain free. Andrea died a few months after I left Walgreens- and I know that there are so so so very many people who felt that loss, and a lot of them only knew her from her job, where she stood behind a register (a "simple" job) she worked that job with excellence and taught us all a lesson on how to be a better human. 

And in working as an insurance agent, I learned that I do not work well on my own. I thrive when I am surrounded by people, noise, motion...

I know that the lessons learned here were teaching me for the most important job of all - to be who I need to be as a wife, a sister, daughter, friend and who I need to be when I'm a mom, someday, to whatever kids God sends my way. No job, however small or how ever long it lasted was ever a waste of my time...

God Bless

Monday, April 18, 2016

a prayer for my SOMEDAY kids

I read an article once (as a teen) about parents who prayed for their children before they were born, before the mom and dad even met, one even kept a journal of notes to their someday kids. I earmarked that article in my heart and never forgot it.

in the 15 or so years since I read that article I too started to pray for my kids. I decided early on (helped along by a dr who told me how difficult it would be for my body to endure and recover from a pregnancy due to the scoliosis i have) that I would adopt my kids, my parents did foster care, and I grew up knowing that there were children in the world without homes, without parents, even without suitcases (just garbage bags that held everything in the world that belonged to them) -I decided that I would find children like them someday and adopt them.

I wish I could say I remember the day I first prayed for my someday kids, I can say I remember sleepless nights (many of them) where I used my time to dream of, think about and pray for my kids and the difficulties they would face, and the life we would both lead before meeting each other.
In my 20's I even wrote out some of these prayers in my journals during my morning devotions, along with the desperate prayers of a single girl longing to find and love a man of God.

I found him, or rather we found each other, in my late 20's and at age 30 I walked down the isle and said I do. And we talked about the kids that would someday be ours, that would make us a family. We decided that since our kids would kids and not babies, and that they would most likely be troubled in one way or another (from the events that left them parent-less and in the foster system) we decided that we needed to be married for a while first. 5 years, so that we knew we had a strong foundation to offer our kids, to hedge our bets against a culture that says divorce is the best option when times get hard, to learn how to communicate, and compromise and be with one another before adding to our numbers.

That was almost 3 years ago, that I said I do. and it is not lost on me that now, 2 years away from our 5 year mark, my someday kids are most likely already alive, they have faced, or are facing or about to face the hard times, the part of their lives that will shape their views on this world, that will inspire high school essays on overcoming, the times that will birth insecurities and fears into their hearts.

My prayers for you my children have changed, they have become more pressing, more frequent and more personal. I don't know your names, your faces or your voices but God does and I ask him to watch over you, to protect you and to build into me the traits you will need in a mother.

I dream of putting together a pink room, filled with sparkle and fluff, of filling a closet with clothes and games, toys and treasures, of reading bed time stories and making barbie dresses out of old socks, messy painted canvas on my wall, Christmas and Easter and birthdays and Fridays with my daughters.

and my sons too (maybe, we will see) but daughters for sure.

I want to be there fully for you, in the middle of the day in the middle of the week so i'm working towards a career that will allow that, I don't want to have to go to work and leave you home day after day.
I watch my husband (your dad) with our cats, so tender and loving as the carries them around the house, as he sings to them and plays with them and I know that he will be a wonderful father, he is so steadfast in the way he works, and even in the way he plays (his love for all things related to board games).  He is caring in a way that surprises you, and he is always there to help when i need him, sometimes before I ask. I know you will love him and that he will love you, someday soon.

And I have a wonderful family full of cousins and aunts and uncles, grandmas and a grandpa who will all love you so much. They might be scattered between states and separated from us by miles but there is so much love there, I promise that we will make the time to see them often, so you will know that you have a big beautiful family.

I pray today that God will protect you, that no matter what your day holds, that you have a hope in your heart for a better day ahead. I pray that you see the beauty in the sunshine, in the dandelion and the shadows. I pray that you feel love, from a sibling or family member, a teacher or a neighbor - that the fear you feel, the uncertainty that you face, is never bigger than the love you feel. I pray that somewhere in your life you have heard of Jesus and his love for you, that you can turn to him for comfort. And I pray that in some way, you can feel my love too, a love that has been growing for more than a decade (before you were born).

I want you to know that even though I may have missed your first step, your first words, your first day of school, that I don't know your favorite food or color or how you react to thunder storms, that I think of you often. That I see a mom in the store, with a whiny child in tow and I think of you, my someday children. That I see kids at church, singing and laughing and i think of you. I see my lovely little niece Joelle or any of my wonderful nephews and I think of you.

It might be a few more years until we meet. until we have a house big enough for more than two, until we start to search for you. But i want you to know that you are loved, so much, even in the unknown you are loved. I woke up today thinking of you and I couldn't shake it so I had to tell you and since I don't know you yet I wrote it here and I whisper a prayer.

I love you little ones.