"Live! Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" - Auntie Mame

Mar 18, 2014

Caveat emptor - Let the buyer beware

This winter in Philadelphia is the 2nd snowiest since 1844 with 67.4 inches of snow fall from December through yesterday. Yesterday - March 17 - St. Patricks Day - four - yes FOUR short days until Spring and we get more snow. Rumor has it that we can get snow through April. Harrumph!

One of the major "sells" by people when I interviewed here was how mild the Philadelphia winters are. Yeah. Right.

In addition to this record snowfall, I have fallen twice due to black ice and spent several days "locked in" because the city and my job shut down.

I have purchased a total of two down vests, four different winter coats, and two pairs of boots with my eye on more boots for next year.

Ginger has multiple sweaters that she hates and two different kinds of boots against the chemicals that are used to clean ice from sidewalks and the roads. 

Yes, I know that it won't be this bad next winter and I will regret owning all that jazz, but staying warm and dry actually makes the whole thing bearable.

The "Winter 20" (pounds) have found their way to my tummy thanks to craving warm comfort foods during the very short daylight hours and to burn in the cold.

I have willingly paid $5.50 for a gallon of milk because it was across the street meaning I didn't have to drag it a mile home while fighting wind and rain pushing me off the sidewalk.

Standing on corners in 20 mph winds where the cold cuts through fabric, leather and wool, I have both envied and mocked the people in their vehicles who are warm while slipping through the ice and snow whilst I easily walked to my transportation.

I have stopped telling people where I moved from because of their reactions, but join the chorus of, "where did this come from?" "Can you believe it?" and "I think spring is trying to get here." that marks the encounters with neighbors as we walk our dogs or drag ourselves home from work.

Weary of complaining to my landlord about the lack of storm windows, a trip to Lowes armed me with weather stripping and outlet insulation that made a huge difference. I read that a lot of hvac is lost through exterior wall outlets. When I put my hand near the outlets on my apartment's exterior wall, I felt the cold air rushing in, so I found that you can cheaply by fireproof insulation that fits around the open areas of the electrical box and stops the leaks. It was amazing to feel sitting next to one after I put it in. Who knew? I think this should be required of builders for all homes.

Now I am committed to enjoying the next few months before the wicked heat with humidity makes me miserable again for three more months.

Come spring!

Feb 20, 2014

Merging History

This last week has been a festival of friends visiting Philadelphia.

It was a delight to just 'be' with them. I realize now, more than ever, that the void of friends that has been growing over the past few years has to be fixed.

My new year's resolution was to be a better friend, and I am trying. I stay in touch, and not just when I have something to say. I think of funny things to send or say to them to lighten their day. I am working on remembering big days in their lives, but honestly its hard for me to remember big days in my own life.

I received compliments on my little loft apartment in the city. It was nice to have a reason to spruce it up. Up until last weekend, no one was seeing it so who cared, right? Well, I realized I care. All this week, I have walked into my neat, orderly, draped and art-hanged (hung?) living area and sigh with contentment. It is me. My space. Who I am today.

However the best compliment I received was from a former coworker and the man who gave me a recommendation that got me this job. He said, "For the first time since I met you two and a half years ago, I see your inner peace. This move was good for you."

Then he told me that nearly two years after his move, he still hasn't made new friends. Holy Hell, man! He has set a goal - five new friends this year. I think he is on to something with that.

Think about your life. How do YOU make friends? What are your communities of choice?

There have been numerous studies that show that the first people to embrace you into a new setting are the 'outliers'. These are the people who have no community and looking to the new person to create that. Here's the rub, that person is an outlier for a reason and you don't want to be branded with that reason before anyone gets to know you and you them.

Joining a new community is also a test in merging your history and earning credibility. It isn't who you used to be; it is who you are. I am struggling with that; have been for a long time. I used to be a minister. (Why did you stop? What did you do wrong?) I used to be a missionary. (Oh no! A zealot!) I used to be a COO. (And you took a step backwards because?) I used to be a consultant. (Eye roll! Pseudo expert!)

You begin hearing the stock phrases you have adopted to gain entry and introduce yourself. Mine are:
  1. I moved here from San Diego XX months ago. Makes me unique. Gives the listener a doorway to say something in return. Makes me sound nuts to give up the beach for Philly. When do transition to a resident? 
  2. I worked in the 3rd world for nearly 20 years. And lived in San Diego at the beach. Mixed message. False nobility. Trying to elevate myself in someone's eyes. 
  3. I work at the College of Medicine. Maybe they think I am smart. HA! 
So as I begin my journey to new friends, I am going to work on putting the phrases away and begin by listening to the world around me. I want to ask more questions and make less statements. I want to engage the other person by truly caring about what they say. I want to have an answer for the question, "What do you do for fun?"

Jan 15, 2014

New Year Resolve

Okay okay, I know it is January 15th, but yesterday was my first day home since December 24 following time with my family and an offsite work event. It has been a seriously life-changing few years for me. A time of personal growth and movement - literally! Now it is time to get serious!

In order to embarrass myself into accountability, I have resolved to do the following:

  1. Following the lead of my friend and hero, Curtis, I am giving up a food for the year. He has done things like ice cream, and this year he is giving up diet soda - permanently! I am giving up wheat. It is an experiment into the concept of the "wheat belly", and if successful, I will give it up forever too!
  2. My dear friend and spiritual mentor, June, has announced she has bone cancer. This is devastating to me as she and her family are one of my best memories of being in Thousand Oaks. She was the warrior that came to pray with me every week. With. Out. Fail. She was there. So I will be praying for her. As important as that is, I will be honoring her by praying for others with great intentionality as she taught me through her example.
  3. Thicken my professional skin so that I might grow and go further faster. Lot could be said here but this captures it all.
  4.  This is the year I will develop my dreams and wishes to fruition:
    • Share Less-Care More - it has been illustrated to me that I am pretty self-centered. This is understandable as I am all I have, but it isn't how I feel inside. This year will be about showing others, whether family or friend, how much I care.
    • Engage My Community - throughout my career, my work has been my community. That cannot happen in my current position, so I need to stretch some unused/underused muscles.
    • Follow My Heart - this is the one where I may be the most challenged.
What the hell was I thinking? This is a PhD in life. Can I do it?