The aviary, anxiety, and getting on with it

Mish-mash catch-all post with updates on various happenings in my life. Busy days this shortened work week, but before I get too engulfed by various things I wanted to provide a quick update on current events.

Cheepers

I wish I’d thought to take a more recent photo, but Cheepers is still with us and appears to be thriving. That said, I have concerns about his longevity, visions of setting him free in the wild only to be snatched on his first freedom flight by the hawk, the big bad boogey bird of the greenbelt behind our home. Or worse, crashing down and within reach of our cats, who then dash off to consume him in private and well out of reach of M’s wrath.

He eats pretty well when M feeds him, drinks water pretty well from an eye dropper that M puts in his beak, and can fly a bit when M launches him from the floor a couple of feet off the ground. Other than that, Cheepers is pretty much completely dependent. He’s not a terrible housemate – he either stays in his box (in the air conditioned comfort of the house) or on his paper plate (when we are at home to ensure he doesn’t fall off whatever surface his plate is resting upon). He goes outside in the cage for a few hours each day in the nice temperatures of the mornings and evenings. Overnight, he sleeps uncaged on his paper plate on M’s nightstand. He starts cheeping for breakfast when the sun comes through the windows, but even with me rustling around getting ready to leave for the gym at 4 in the morning that bird stays with beak tucked into his wing and happily sleeping.

I’m not sure what will happen to him, frankly, but I can envision a future with us having a bird pet for however long he lives. It’s now been 2 weeks, and while other birds of his species – that may or may not be the parent birds – are out in the yard, they seem pretty indifferent to him and he to them. Birdy-Bird, his predecessor that also fell out of the nest and ultimately died in our care, was older when M found him and would interact routinely with his parents while ensconced in the yard in his cage. Cheepers was younger and likely abandoned, so essentially M is his parent and family. Unfortunately M cannot teach him how to hunt and feed himself. M cannot get Cheepers to eat food or drink water he places in front of him.

I think M has become, by necessity, a helicopter bird parent. And unfortunately, I see little hope of getting him “launched” successfully and safely.

Yep, M enables him. Cheepers goes off in his cage to jobsites or on runs with M during the day, his worms in their own cooler for snacks and lunch. There are certainly worse fates for the little bird, but he seems far too domesticated and tame now to survive on his own in the wild. Time will tell.

I have always been a dog person if I were to have a pet. Now I have cats outside and a bird in my house. The bird is unlikely to live a long life either way, and the cats were already adults when we met them 6 years ago, so they are settling into the “mature” cat years now. But after this, I want no more pets.

Anxiety

The Big Law Firm (BLF) transition was paperwork-ly completed last Friday. Monday began the first day for remaining staff as new employees with BLF, and of course yesterday was a paid holiday. I had really, Really, REALLY hoped for a soft landing in this change and that despite my personal misgivings and worries about it, that the staff would find the experience positive or mostly positive. I really wanted future communications with them to contain sort of tempered excitement at worst, that they miss working with me but things are so damn great even without me it’s hard to contain their enthusiasm. I also really hoped the first day would be more off-hand and casual as they all adjust to the new normal.

Yeah, Pollyanna still lives here.

Monday was fairly brisk for me setting up my own new normal as far as self-employment continuing and restart with client work and appointments, so it was a rare mid-morning to late afternoon period of not reading texts except those from clients I was meeting or expecting to be hearing from about schedule-related issues.

I had 117 texts from various staff members when I finally sat down to read them. About 30% were of the “so weird without you here” and “we miss you already” and “it’s lunchtime – where are you?” type messages, which made me smile. The rest were descriptive about the changes being implemented from day 1 and how it felt like BLF had executed a military coup and drafted all of them. Or worse. Change is hard.

I wish it were different, but reminded them that change is difficult at first and to give BLF staff a chance. They do operate differently than we did, than I did, and it’s a new era and practically a new job, so be patient and smart about learning the new systems and procedures. Give BLF a chance to not only adapt to a new firm, new cases, new staff, but also a chance to evaluate the office work flow and adapt to and incorporate some of our best practices. While I am realistic about there being no place for me in the new business world order of the firm, I know these are very smart and talented attorneys. They will adapt to the new culture and the culture will adapt to incorporate them as well.

Even the former partners are having to adapt somewhat. In their roles as consultants and advisors they will be in the office periodically for meetings with clients and consulting/transitioning ongoing matters, but they too are having to adapt to not being primary decisionmakers and expected to be somewhere throughout the day. As I will be assisting them with the wind-down of the firm throughout the next 6 months to a year, I will still see and speak to them regularly, although of course it’s not the same as it was. But as I have reminded myself hundreds of times since this all came about, things are constantly in a state of flux and nothing stays the same forever, nor would I desire that.

But I am also facing the reality of my new normal. Monday I was busy with work-related things both planned and unexpected, as is typical for all aspects of life. I have had 3 clients that I had to cut loose back when I accepted full-time employment express happy-happy-joy-joy at the opportunity to return to the fold, and before the calendar even turned I was already engrossed in resolving a bigger problem and found myself with a short-fuse deadline for today that I was only able to get extended to Monday and even then only because the regulator knows me well and is delighted to have me back on the case. While grateful for the reprieve, I’m furious at the person who spent more than a year collecting fees for work she was not actually doing. I am actually so furious about it I am making a list and planning to market directly to her clients, probably all of them.

Because I tend to hate marketing, this is an added layer of stress. Fortunately for me, all my work has come from referrals from people I know or clients I work with or have worked with in the past. I am not very good at talking up my services or expertise; I am pretty black-and-white about what I can or cannot do for someone. Schmoozing is not normal or easy behavior for me, especially in a marketing-type capacity. While I can and do negotiate (I buy all the cars in our family because M hates dealing with salesmen), I dislike the process.

Beyond that, though, I have some concerns about what to do with myself all day. I mean, right now I have plenty on my plate – through the end of July my to-do lists overfloweth. There is just this sense that a “regular” workday and workload will be inadequate to fill up my typical work hours. What do I do then?

In my experience, the anxiety is unfounded. It is the mostly unknown workday right now, and being such a schedule-keeping creature of habit, I dislike that uncertainty. So, I have decided the only course of action is to stay on some semblance of my presently normal schedule. Stick to my regular wake-up and exercise schedule, plan my workday around its normal timeframe. I have more flexibility to actually meet with clients in their offices now, although I imagine my Tuesdays are pretty well set and will continue.

My routine-loving stress puppy will be soothed by sticking to what we know. For at least the month of July, that will be good enough.

Life (and Work) Does Go On

I am cutting myself some slack on my present-level of anxiety over the changes in life and career. While I am not at all worried about finding enough work, being capable enough to do the work, or even juggling and managing my time to ensure stuff gets done, change is hard, even change I have been anticipating. Unfortunately things have been sort of ethereal in nature during that period, and now that July is here and full-time self-employment is again a thing, I have to get busy wrapping my arms around it and sorting it into orderly priorities.

This week I have appointments outside the office with existing, returning, and potential clients. Which means I have to be on best and most dressed-up behavior most of my days – none of my favorite capris and tank tops at my treadmill desk much this week. This is one of the true perks of working from home into the future and I’m impatient to start enjoying it.

From the messages and support from friends and clients alike, I am lucky to have such great influences from those who populate my life. I am not “losing” friends by leaving the firm so much as gaining a different slant on the friendships built there.

Between the negotiated severance package and terms of my separation, money is not even top 5 of concerns I have about this transition. In that, I am extraordinarily fortunate and genuinely grateful. While so far from “frugalista” I should probably consult the dictionary regularly to refresh my memory when my brand of financial restraint seems too confining, ours is a pretty simple life. Biggest splurges are probably training for me and fuel for M’s travel to and fro to run, both of which have a direct benefit on our overall and ongoing health.

That said, I always do have a bare-bones budget in mind, our go-to in the event of financial famine. I update it regularly as our circumstances change, but typically very little changes unless we have acquired new debt (ha ha) or have become gazelle-intense about saving for something or paying off the mortgage.

I am mostly chasing my tail because big changes give me some sense of anxiety. Since this is not a change I wanted but more one I had to implement and accept, it makes adjustment that much more difficult. I am and will continue to adjust to the new normal, and from there I expect less aimless frothing on a spin cycle and more productive use and practical applications of time and energy.

Onward, ever onward. The adventure continues, even with me whimpering and weakly wiggling my feet in protest.

 

More Cheepers

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06/25/2027 – “Cheepers” after consuming breakfast.

M’s bird guest is thriving. While he’s cute and all, I guess I am just not into birds. Dogs are more my thing, but anymore, the idea of the responsibility of having one in the household is daunting. I like the freedom that comes with being an empty nester. We do have cats, but they are outdoor animals and require only a bowl of food and filled water bowls daily, a task our neighbors are happy to fulfill for us if needed.

Not sure how much longer Cheepers will be in residence, but he’s pleasant enough. I certainly don’t want him to die, but survival of the fittest makes not getting too attached appropriate in this case. Once freed to pursue life in the wild of the backyard, maybe he may live to ripe old bird age, but we have lots of predators in the back yard, including our semi-feral felines and hawks in the greenbelt. Hoping for the best, yet planning for the worst for Cheepers.

He is cute even with the Very Serious Expression.

 

Houseguest

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06/23/2017 – “Cheepers” watching YouTube with M.

In general, M and I try hard to be gracious hosts. Apparently our hospitality extends to the feathered in our midst.

M rescued this baby bird from the heat on Tuesday. This is the second such rescue this year, the first, Birdy Bird, resulted in a tragic and untimely death of unknown causes. Not for lack of trying on M’s part, though. Birdy Bird was with us for almost 2 weeks, during which time he would wander around the house perched upon M’s shoulder while M attended to whatever it was he happened to be doing throughout the day. Then one morning he was dead in the cage and M was broken hearted.

Then he found Cheepers, near death on the ground in the heat. Cheepers is either significantly younger than Birdy Bird or brain damaged from the heat, but he’s a bit on the slow side about self preservation and feeding himself. Yeah, this one is more high maintenance throughout the day. But still sweet and responds to M’s voice and presence. I can walk through the room and the cheeping for food continues. M appears and Cheepers stops talking and shows his tonsils waiting for the mom figure to put forth the grub. He also expresses his strenuous objection if M walks away to get his meal while he’s still starving. Me? Cheepers thinks I’m part of the landscape, and I’m okay with that.

Last night I came home to find Cheepers parked on a towel on M’s chest watching bird videos while M was talking on the phone. Cheepers was rapt by the video of big giant bird doing whatever he was doing on the screen and talking back to big giant bird. Terrible picture, but M didn’t want me to use the flash lest I frighten our guest.

*eye roll*

Welcome to my world.

Contagion

I have a dear friend who is a nurse and has worked graveyard shift for as long as I have known him. We met in the worst of times – he cared for my oldest child in her final days – and he has become part of the story of my life for the last 20 years. Like so many of my friends near and far who are silent readers, he keeps up with the blog, especially the training recaps. Last night before he went to work, he texted me that I have become a positivity terrorist.

My level of thrilled-out-ness presently knows no boundaries, I was so delighted with the term and characterization. Because he is a nurse, I wanted to find some medical-related term for this post. Because I am a glitter-bombing unicorn positivity terrorist these days, right? Love it! Perhaps it is contagious? I have no idea, but it does seem the majority of those around me are calmer and less stressed out to morose. Whether the change is coming from them or the way I see and interpret their auras – I am just not sure. But I actually prefer it this way, of course. I vastly prefer to be around happier people and not feel as if I am draining their life force away because I cannot muster more upbeat joy to share.

It’s Friday. It’s been a terrific week. And I have a mish-mash of random and pleasant stuff to share.

Tuesday was my review at the firm, and one of the things we discussed was employee perks and benefits. To be clear, I find the partners at my firm to be extraordinarily generous in compensation and benefits to the staff. Being a small firm with 4 partners, their intention has never been to “grow” the firm into some massive behemoth with hundreds of partners. As it stands right now we are expanding to capacity, with 30 full- and part-time employees, of which the attorney staff will number increase to 24 of varying degrees of experience.

We provide usual (for a professional services firm in our area) benefits of healthcare and retirement, paid time off, and more holidays than any small firm I have worked at in many years. There are monthly events – like junk food Tuesday and happy hours that could mean anything from jamba juice to an afternoon of golf or more traditional happy hour offerings. Remote work is also a negotiable opportunity, but unless someone is sick or stuck at home waiting for the cable guy, staff (other than me) rarely take advantage of it.

But health and wellness is seems to be on the partners’ minds these days. After my most recent brush with ergo “experts,” the topic of how we can encourage staff to pursue more work/life balance and stay healthy has become a theme.

And to be perfectly transparent, a healthier group keeps all our healthcare insurance costs down.

Now, these are lawyers, and by nature and definition they seem to have some level of workaholism in their DNA. I know, because I feel it too when I am in the office and toiling at my own stuff. But I am a genuine, born again believer in the benefits of exercise. While I cannot make anyone go to the gym or go for a walk or take a yoga class, I can be open and honest about my experience and what I was like before versus how I feel right now. The difference to me is pretty startling, but it happened very gradually and over an extended period of time. However, the other ladies in the firm (there are actually 8 of us now out of a firm of 27) have noticed that my figure is changing. Subtly, slowly, but changing nonetheless.

We talk about diet and exercise all the time. A couple of the ladies have tried Whole 30 for a couple of months, another has been pursuing weight watchers without much success. I think all that stuff is a huge PITA as well as an overall challenge to be consistent with it. But just like I truly dislike the scale, the closest thing that I do that comes to dieting is trying to eat more protein (shooting for 45% of my total daily calorie intake) and staying within a realistic calorie budget. The rest is pretty much anything goes. I also understand that I get a little wiggle room with my daily exercise. Not a whole lot, but I do occasionally fall off and eat gratuitous sugar.

But I have come to really understand that exercise or diet alone will not get the results anyone seeks. I am supposing that body might relinquish weight faster with less food intake, but perhaps not. For now, I am choosing to be happy and grateful that my health concerns are mostly resolved enough that I can (mostly) be patient and pursue my activities without any overwhelming drama. I think my cohorts are suspicious of my placidity in this regard. They did not know me that well when I was having my almost daily gym meltdowns with negative girl behind the wheel.

The partners are contemplating adding gym membership as an employee perk. Would employees use it, though, that’s the bigger question. While I would love, Love, LOVE to have my gym membership subsidized as an employee benefit, I would not be willing to change gyms to receive it and would obviously be lobbying hard to have MY gym chain be the corporate selection. There are other offerings around town, but I do not think any of the others have the same consistent levels of equipment and facilities.

So it is a thought swirling around in several heads this week, and sometimes soon I am going to have to get busy figuring out whether or not this is something we will offer our employees. One of the partners starting thinking out loud about introductory training, and I immediately imagined trainer J’s reaction to the idea of bunches of new recruits clamoring for his available hours. The thought made me smile. Maybe if there was enough interest he could craft a group offering for my group? Hey, anything is possible, right?

But first things first – assessing interest and then pursuing cost proposals, etc. I’m hopeful, though. I think it would be a terrific opportunity for my associates. That I have bosses genuinely interested in the overall health and wellness of their employees also makes me happy.

We are having “bring your dogs to work day” today as well and have 4 labs, a golden retriever, and a pair of corgies roaming from office to office for meet-and-greets with the staff. Admittedly we are a dog-friendly office and when it happens everyone present seems to work it out and get along, plus there are enough people here that all the pups get petted and fawned over adequately. Our new offices will be even more dog-friendly, so it should be even better when there is no carpet to clean in case of accidents (not happened yet, but one never knows). I love dogs. M will not let me have one, and I tend to agree that our lifestyle is not especially dog friendly, so I get to enjoy the visiting pup-pups.

I gave trainer J this really pretty bottle of scotch this morning. It always makes me happy when I am able to rehome quickly items I will not use. Otherwise M takes a shine to the pretty bottle or box and tries to manufacture a reason to keep it. No, just no. We have several bottles of wine for cooking and another small bottle of scotch for another experimental chicken dish somewhere in the house. This good and better stuff can go to the kids or trainer J or other friends who will enjoy it. Except for friend J and trainer J, I really do not know anyone else who enjoys scotch. Canadian whiskey, check. Beer, mostly check. Cognacs and brandies, uh huh, got it covered. Bourbon, gin, and rum are sort of a catch-all ask anyone and everyone I know.

Speaking of friend J, he is presently in the states, but unlikely to be able to get out here for a visit in his short window. He suggested maybe next week – arrive on Thursday, have to depart again on Saturday morning – but the timing is crappy for me for a couple of reasons. Probably time to start making our holiday plans.

On the other hand, friend J sounds much more himself-like of late. Whatever program he is pursuing in the gym (and it is kicking his ass) and whatever scotch he has been drinking, cigars he has been smoking, company he has been keeping over there in Zurich has catapulted him back to his more normal, happy-go-lucky self. Thank goodness; our long friendship can only endure only so much navel-gazing ramblings, and I pretty much have that position locked up for the foreseeable future. It becomes a challenge to maintain this level of self-absorption if I have to slap it him silly and out of humming melancholy baby in my text and email because his love life has hit a continual streak of crazy women. I am glad to see him back to his normal, slightly cynical, potty-mouthed self.

M seems to be coming out of his back-related aches and pains, or he is not complaining as much about it. While I am mostly sympathetic, my only thought is that perhaps taking a day or more off from his 20-mile daily runs would allow this muscle spasm thing time to settle down. But no, it’s apparently not bad enough to make him break his streak. *sigh* The life of an endurance athlete is quite hard and even harder to comprehend sometimes, and I obviously fail to understand the nuances and needs associated with it. All I know for sure is that no one would have to tell me twice to take some time off if I were in that kind of pain, so I am pleased it finally seems to be fading.

My own gym pursuits continued this morning, and I noticed washing my hands at lunch that I have acquired these little calluses on my palms and fingers from the weights. I would think they would be all the way across my palms or on most fingers, but no, only a couple of specific spots on each hand. It feels as if that means something really good, like I am actually working hard enough to leave physical evidence. Or my gym crazy just took yet another turn. Whatever. I am ridiculously excited by feeling the little rough patches of skin.

And that, my friends, is my brain-dump wrap up for this Friday. Happy weekending!

Besides training, another significant event today …

We have 3 adopted cats from when our next door neighbor went to assisted living. The eldest of the 3, Simon, has been acting strangely the last few weeks. He was either not eating much or trying to swallow food whole and then throwing it back up. Sometime in the last 10 days M and I noticed he was not eating at all. M finally got an opportunity to lure him in with the brush and discovered a goose egg sized knot on his neck that was very tender to the touch.

C, our resident vet tech cat expert, recommended we take him to the vet for determination. There were tests done, an overnight stay, and we got the results this morning – cancer.

We love, Love, LOVE our fluff buckets, but we are supremely practical people. M had asked the vet some specific questions about quality of life, how long he thought Simon might continue to enjoy his life, and most importantly, was he in any pain? Since he has mostly stopped eating and drinking (they had to use an IV on him during his stay), the vet did not think it would be all that long, and from the way he moved and acted when his neck was touched, the tumor was causing him some pain.

Since Simon has mostly be lazing around the deck and yard through the weekend, we decided that perhaps it was kinder to all of us to put him down sooner rather than later. I came home from work and brushed him (and cried while doing so) as he mostly purred and slept while I ran it through his soft fur. In just the few days he was even thinner, did not move around much at all, yet would barely tolerate either of us handling him unless we were brushing his fur. He would take no treats from our hand, not drink any water or dip his paws in the pool. If we tried to pick him up he would hiss and scratch at us, something than has not happened since our first early months of taking them under our wing.

M ended up taking him to the vet alone; I simply could not do accompany him. The saddest thing to me was getting home tonight and seeing the empty cat carrier and the remaining 2 fluff buckets on the deck awaiting dinner.

Rest in peace, sweet Simon. You are missed.

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Baby bird loser

Okay, backstory here is that M rescued a couple of baby hummingbirds that had been abandoned and/or fell out of their nest. One was too weak to last long in our bird nursery and died in the first 24 hours. We were on day 3 with the other one – nicknamed Sweety Tweety.

Today M was driving our houseguests up the hill to run and be picked up for the next leg of their trip, and he was worried about Sweety Tweety going all day without food. I caved under the emotional duress and agreed to bring her with me to the office, where I could oversee her care and feeding today. I actually have nothing against birds and the baby birds are quite cute, but I vastly prefer seeing them in their natural habitat outside the windows in their nests with mom and/or dad flying in to oversee their care and feeding. For all his “no pets” policy, M is the one who continually rescues and brings home the orphans. We presently have 3 fluffbuckets in the family, and while I love and adore them now, if they required more from me than food and quick interaction in the morning and food and treats and slightly longer interaction (unless they are being anti-social) in the evenings, I would be demanding that we have a dog. But they were accustomed to being wild outdoor cats when we adopted them after our elderly neighbor went to assisted living and had no way to rehome them otherwise. Had we been unwilling to look after them, they would have been sent off to cat rescue somewhere.

Anyway, Sweety Tweety did not enjoy the car ride to the office. I gave her some nectar when we got here and went on about my day, which this morning meant being away from my office for most of the first hour. When I returned to give her the next meal, she was pressed against the bars with her wings fluttering and body more than halfway out of the cage. I did not know what to do with her to keep her contained, so I fed her and got a towel from my car to cover the cage. Again, away from my office for a short time … but left the door wide open. About 40 minutes later I return to my office, and Sweety Tweety has escaped! She’s not that old yet, and as of last night could not fly much or very far, and there is no humming bird flying around my office or anywhere else.

I have looked for her. I have listened for her tweeting. I have asked the staff to keep an ear open for tiny tweet sounds and an eye out for tiny, fluttering bird wings. Nothing. No one has seen or heard from her, and that cage is empty.

Yes, I am a failed baby bird caretaker, possibly even a baby bird killer in my negligence. I feel horrible about this. I separated an actual human being from her livelihood yesterday and I’m far more distressed about the loss of a tiny wild bird. Of course, the idea of decomposing bird corpse, no matter how tiny, somewhere in my office squicks me out as well.

This is why M and I do not have pets. Our life and lifestyle do not seem appropriate for caring for animals. Our exception – the fluffbuckets – are pretty self-sufficient and primarily feral (as providers of food and treats they seem to like us well enough most of the time) or who knows what might have happened, although to be fair, they would be living with some other family with members who are not allergic to cats.

Ugh. I have my training recap in progress, but I’m upset about Sweety Tweety. And M is running in the mountains and either ignoring my texts or has not yet received word that I lost his bird.

 

Good somethings

Last night I went to a yoga class with both daughter C and future daughter-in-law K. It was hilarious. None of us are particularly bendy people, but we tried. I have more experience with Bikram than either of them, and neither were prepared for how hot it is in a room heated to 105 degrees. Still, I treasure any time I spend doing just about anything with my kids, and yoga is no exception. K is game to try again on Thursday, C has to work, but we may be together again at a class on Friday. Girl power at its finest.

I used the cable machine all by myself again this morning. I had not definitively decided before getting to the gym, but I leaning toward another try at it and refining my technique and form. Then J asked me what my plans were, and I made my final decision to go for the cables. It was still early and the gym was still pretty empty, so I felt secure in my choice.

I was going to use a single, stand-alone cable machine, but when I got out there and set my stuff down near it, the nice gent who helped me lower the cable thing yesterday let me know the machine I was using yesterday was available – he was using only the other side of it – and I was welcome to it, so I moved back over there. My attachments were all nearby, too, so I not have to wander far to find what I needed.

And my whole body today is pleasantly sore, which rarely happens anymore. J’s guidance on Monday had been as many reps as possible while maintaining good form, so I tried for 20 on each exercise. I did not always succeed, but I feel good about the effort put forth. It was a good day at the gym.

Plus I was not completely freaked out when some other guy comes over and starts doing pull-ups right in front of me while chatting with the other member using the other side of the machine. I mean, I am standing there doing final set of rows and he just steps in front of me and starts doing pull-ups on the overhead railing. Disconcerting for a second, but not nearly as weird as the time the guy put on some sort of ankle boots and hung upside down from the TRX structure while I was minding my own business and using the TRX straps right across from where he was hanging.

Every morning when I get to the gym it is still dark out. I park right next to the swimming pool and realize how familiar and comforting it is to hear the sound of someone or several someone’s swimming laps. The regular, rhythmic splashes are soothing to my nerves.

When I got home, M was just leaving for his run so I pulled up and rolled down my window, ZZ Top blaring out of my stereo. I did turn it down – M yelling at me over the music it at 7:30 in the morning is not the image I want our neighbors to have of us – and our neighbor across the street yells “turn that music down!” Any of our other neighbors we would smile and laugh and suggest turning it up louder in their driveway, but this guy is a curmudgeon of the first order. I am so proud of us, proud of M in particular, for not letting him get to us and stalking across the street for a confrontation. This man is old enough to be ZZ Top’s grandfather and has gray hair longer than mine with a matching gray beard. Completely not worth getting into a heated discussion with him, which is he only type of conversation he (the curmudgeon) has with anyone.

One of the associates at my firm is a rather hipster cool kind of guy with a sharp sense of humor and scary smart type intelligence. He is on the quiet side, and when he does speak it is with this sort of crisp authority that makes the hairs on my neck stand up in respect and understanding that he could be cutting and cruel if that were his intention and goal; he is not someone who radiates warm fuzzies. This morning he strolled into my office with his time and expense reports for February, looks at me, then smiles – one of those genuine, sincere smiles that completely overwhelms his eyes – and says “I love your hairstyle; it’s beachy, what my niece refers to as ‘mermaid’ hair.” I was astounded and stuttered out a thank you. It was the first time ever he has made a personal comment to anyone in my hearing. And my hair? It one of those wash-and-goo and hope for the best events, and since my hair has a lot of natural curl/wave/puffy available to it, there is a lot of prayer behind that hope for the best. I have no appointments today so I felt okay with going a little more casual. Who knew Mr. GQ likes beachy hair?

The weather here has been absolutely glorious.

I have 2 nephews I have not seen in more than 15 years. Of the 2, the older one has been in jail/prison for most of that time, and the other was a beneficiary in my mother’s will and that resulted in several brief phone/text conversations while I was settling the estate. Other than that, though, I think it safe to say we are strangers who share some strands of DNA. Yesterday on FB the younger nephew popped up as someone I might know, and a brief scan of his page says he has a baby daughter that is about 6 months old, named after my sister, albeit her middle name, which was the name she always reserved for the daughter she never had. I looked through his page, at the pictures of him now and his son (about 12 now) that I have never met, and now this beautiful baby girl … and I closed FB without liking or commenting or opening the window to communicating. Because my sister and I were very different people with very different parenting styles, and I do not want to open my heart to a stranger I cannot trust. I thought I would feel guilty. Instead, I feel a little proud for protecting myself from the particular kind of heartache that comes with family drama.

Our next door neighbor’s son was working at her home with his 3 goldendoodles on the loose in the backyard. They are so goofy, friendly, adorable, and make me smile every time they come to visit.

After writing the post yesterday, I recognize the balance is not as elusive as it seems to be in my heart and mind. Balance for me is recognizing and acknowledging the positives of the good somethings as well as the impacts of the less desirable somethings. Counting my blessings, being thankful, gratitude journaling – however I phrase it, I too often discount or diminish my personal positives and overemphasize and obsessed about the soul-destroying negatives. Why I feel unworthy or less deserving could fill several blogs. An intriguing side effect of changing my habits and improving my physical health has meant that my brain cannot keep broadcasting messages counter to my new reality. Perhaps that is the best something of all.

Happy Wednesday everyone!