Peace – Serenity

Serenity now!

That’s what entered my mind as I sat in my quiet family room after work while waiting for my husband and daughter to go pick up dinner. The last hour of work was frantic, so I’m taking a stress exit.

My stress exit includes a glass of wine (Old Vine Wild Thing, 2008), patio door open with ceiling fan on low to enjoy the mild temperature of this evening, and blogging. So peaceful! Even as my dog snores stretched out on his back in the middle of the floor. :)

How many of you enter a room that has a TV in it and feel compelled to turn it on? Why is that? I usually do because I have to have something to stimulate my brain. Reading stimulates my brain; yet, it is taking me forever to finish reading Doctor Sleep because I watch too much TV.

Turtle Swimming

Because no post is complete without a photo, here’s a peaceful turtle!

Great Article on Turner Syndrome

For those surfing the web for anything and everything they can find on Turner Syndrome, here’s an interesting article:

Women with Turner Syndrome tell their stories

It’s worth keeping in mind that everyone has things that make them unique with or without labels, syndromes, or other diagnoses. Just because someone is labeled with a syndrome or is otherwise slightly different due to genetics, that doesn’t make them a proverbial “leper“. Some of them are pretty fantastic!

Laptop Fixed

I may have mentioned my laptop a few times in the past describing how the screen was broken and later how my son (guilty party) had purchased a separate monitor for me to hook it up to so I could at least have a way to use it. That worked great but turned it into a desktop where I had to be in one place to use it. I was upstairs at least, yet somewhat isolated from others.

My other son happened upon a laptop of the exact same model that someone had tossed in the rubbish. He had already harvested the hard drive from it for his own use. Today, he harvested the screen and another gig of ram for my laptop. Oh, and the battery, which is now charging to be put to the test later to see how long it lasts.

HP G60 - It's Alive!

IT’S ALIVE!!!

Now I won’t have to bring my work laptop upstairs if I want to browse the interwebs in the family room. Plus, I can work on photos and create things on Photoshop anywhere I want again! I don’t even know how old this laptop is (over 4 years I think). She has a few minor scars and some fresh transplants and is going strong. What are the odds of stumbling across a tosser like this to be an organ donor of sorts?

To the person who frivolously tossed their laptop and probably bought something brand spankin’ new to replace it, my sincere appreciation!

Brighter Looking Future

After years of belt tightening and scraping by, I’m relieved that the future is finally looking brighter. Adjusting a W4 made a big difference on taxes so instead of owing again this year, we’re getting a refund. WHEW!

Finally, we can get rid of the derelict furniture in our family room and replace it with something comfortable and multi-functional. The leather reclining couch and love seat have served us well for about 12 years. It was durable and easy to clean with young children and dogs around. However, it has torn at the seams on each seat, the padding is shot, and one of the recliners is broken. Have you ever tried to sew leather? OW! The best solution has been to toss a cover over them when company comes.

Since we don’t have a dedicated “guest room” in our house like so many others who live far away from family have on reserve for visitors, I’d like to get another sofa sleeper. It’s not as private as a separate bedroom, but it’s got to be more comfortable (and easier to get in and out of) than an air mattress. Of course, using my office in the basement as a guest room for more privacy is also an option but really only if I’m able to take time off work while the guests are here. :) 

I am tossing around the idea of moving the futon from the open area of the basement and into my office anyway. That’s going to take a considerable amount of work. I have four sets of shelves in here with so much on them that I look like I’m in the early stages of becoming a hoarder. It’s crafting/hobby supplies, books, and paperwork that should be filed, trashed, or shredded immediately but has accumulated instead. Ultimately, I would love this room to be a more calming environment without all this crud closing in on me. Bad feng shmay!

For the first time in a long time, I was able to use my quarterly bonus from work to purchase something special just for me that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise. After nearly two years of waiting, I was finally able to buy the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens for my camera. A sampling of it’s capabilities is here. It’s not limited to taking 1:1 ratio close up photos, though. It’s also great as a portrait lens. I hope to do some portrait work with it soon. I did take it to a high school musical last night to test it at a distance. We were sitting in the first row of the upper section of theater seats, and I was able to get shots like this from my seat:

The Who's Tommy | Pinball King and QueenWe do have another special treat coming up that I’m very excited about! For privacy reasons, I won’t divulge the details until after the fact. ;) Must be mindful of spammers, scammers, and other creepy stalker types.

Though the future looks brighter at the moment, we know better than to get too carried away. That can lead to trouble and ultimately right back to the same place. Careful decisions must be made to be mindful of the budget.

 

Dr. Seuss and the First Amendment

This quote has been making its rounds on social media networks. It’s mistakenly believed to be by Dr. Seuss but is correctly attributed to Bernard M. Baruch, a presidential advisor to Franklin Deleno Roosevelt. Bernard said, “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” about his dinner party seating arrangements.

In any event, I shared the viral quote myself but added that some of those who mind DO matter when they’re people you work for or with. You absolutely need to watch what you say in public. Freedom of Speech is great, but that doesn’t mean we should throw tact and class out the window. Filtering is a good thing!

Dr. Seuss: Be Who You Are...

The use of tact goes for those who are offended by what someone else says. Whether or not tact was used when the offending  statement or speech was delivered, those speaking in defense should be tactful in their rebuttal. It really is that simple, folks!

Farewell 2013

It’s time to bid adieu to 2013 and start fresh with a brand new year. Yes, it’s just another day – the day after yesterday and the day before tomorrow. Time marches on as it always does. Yet, it’s nice to symbolize a new beginning with the start of a new year. From the top, 2014!

As we pack away Christmas decorations, we can reflect on the past and hope for good things in the new year.

Santa Christmas Ornament

Comedy and Tragedy Theatre Ornament

Christmas Ball Ornament and Pine ConeI’m not saying 2013 was all bad. Of course some good things happened along with certain struggles and hardships. Overall, though, it was a very hard year. I’m ready to leave it in the past and carry only the memories of the good times into the future. If I were triskaidekaphobic, I’d blame it on the number 13. :D I know how to take responsibility for my own actions, though. I wholeheartedly believe that I’m suffering the natural consequences of my own mistakes. It’s a long, hard punishment to suffer through, but I’m on the downhill slope now. That tiny glimmer starting to appear in the distance just might be the light at the end of this tunnel.

So I’m saying farewell to 2013 and putting out the welcome mat for 2014!

Do I Irritate People?

Offend ButtonWhy, yes Virginia! I do irritate people! I don’t make it my life’s mission to do so, but it happens. If I see something shared on social network sites that isn’t true, I feel compelled to search for the truth and respond in kind. I suppose my Enter key somehow becomes an Offend key when I do that. I’m not trying to call anyone stupid. It’s only my hope that someone who sees the facts will choose not to also share the fiction. If this bothers those who shared the fiction in the first place, I’m sorry they feel that way. However, I’m not sorry for pointing out the truth.

Fact or FictionMoral of the story: Make sure what you’re sharing is true. It could prevent hurting others.

Materialism

I was curious about the love of money – more importantly, the fact that some can afford excessive luxuries and seem to take that for granted. Almost everyone wants something they don’t have. It seems like the more money a person has, the more unnecessary things they not only want but actually possess  (in number, price, or size).

1 John 2:16 says, “Everything that is in the world—the craving for whatever the body feels, the craving for whatever the eyes see and the arrogant pride in one’s possessions—is not of the Father but is of the world.”

Wesley’s Explanation:

[16] For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The desire of the flesh — Of the pleasure of the outward senses, whether of the taste, smell, or touch.

The desire of the eye — Of the pleasures of imagination, to which the eye chiefly is subservient; of that internal sense whereby we relish whatever is grand, new, or beautiful.

The pride of life — All that pomp in clothes, houses, furniture, equipage, manner of living, which generally procure honour from the bulk of mankind, and so gratify pride and vanity. It therefore directly includes the desire of praise, and, remotely, covetousness. All these desires are not from God, but from the prince of this world.

 

How to Blog After a Long, Hard Week

So here’s something new. I’m going to write a blog post while working on beer #2, and I don’t drink much. I only have 14 more minutes to accomplish this because I can’t miss The Carrie Diaries!

I’ll start with household budgets (no way am I touching the national budget!).

Budget Cartoon

We’ve been through the ringer the past three years. I got real about it in a previous post. Two months ago, we made our last payment on one of our cars and now have the title in our hands (well, it’s actually safely filed away because it would be difficult to go about our daily business with a title in our hands). Living on a budget is something we should have been doing before we were even married, but it is what it is, and we’ve suffered (are still suffering) the consequences. We are entering year 4 of a 5-year plan, and the elimination of a car payment is a huge milestone.

Somewhere along the past several months, a bill fell through the cracks. I’ve been late-paying it ever since (less than 30 days each time). That system bit me in the arse this past week, though. Through a miscalculation on my end, the payment was a few bucks short of the minimum, and they cancelled our auto insurance. FREAK OUT mode! I realized this on Sunday night when I couldn’t contact anyone about it to make it right … the day AFTER our son bought a new car. I don’t know how I managed to fall asleep that night in the midst of a panic attack. First thing Monday morning, I contacted my insurance agent and brought the account current to get the policies reinstated. According to my calculations, this was doable. Then along came Wednesday. Overdrawn! I must have been sheet white. My body was just about numb all over. I forgot to account for the energy bill payment still pending! So I caved and deposited a check drawn on a home equity line of credit account that I swore we’d never touch again – just enough to fix the situation. Breathing again, I managed to get to sleep that night.

Cut to today, PAYDAY! There was no overtime at all on my check for this pay period, but the next one will have about 23 hours of overtime on it. Everything is current at this point, so the overtime will go towards Christmas. With a final “rent” payment coming from our son, we should be back in a comfortable place. Praise sweetbabyjesus! Water and energy (gas/electric combined) bills should be back to normal now, too.

Work

Let me start by emphasizing how grateful I am to be able to work from home for a company that keeps growing and growing and growing! Being promoted to a “Senior Agent” on top of an exceptionally generous annual raise was a pleasant surprise this year. If that raise hadn’t happened this past spring, I don’t think we would be where we are right now.

Here’s the “but”. We are short-handed, and the work is piling up. Hence all the overtime lately. I haven’t clocked out on time in the past couple weeks. Today I took a call at 6pm (when I should be clocking out for the day). They had been holding for about three minutes already. I had to put the wrap-up from my last call on hold to take that call. I got back to that wrap-up at about 6:15. After that was taken care of, I wasn’t done yet. Nope! I was in the middle of a complaint case before THAT call came in. After finishing that case, I finally clocked out at about 6:45pm. That’s nothing! Last week I didn’t clock out until about 7:30pm one day. Thank goodness my commute is only a flight of stairs!

Nevertheless, working past 10 hours is exhausting. Working 10 hours is rough enough because I get absolutely nothing else done on work days. It makes that extra day off each week that much more beautiful, though. I have no desire to go back to five 8-hour days. I’m sure it played a role in my brain’s malfunction noted above (forgetting about a pending payment).

You know what makes it all worth it? The huge, heart-felt thank you I received on the phone today from a customer. Before reaching me, their customer experience had been lackluster. This person literally gushed over the fact that I took the time to really listen to the entire issue with empathy and finally took the appropriate action to help resolve the issue. I nearly cried! This shows how spent the entire department is. We hear similar problems all day every day and forget to treat each case like it’s the first instance of a particular problem. That’s a skill that I’ve worked hard to master and one that I’m proud to possess. Empathy, excellent people skills, professionalism, overall knowledge and understanding of all areas of my department as well a general understanding of other departments, and of course tenure are reasons I’m a great Senior Agent. I wear that badge proudly and take my job seriously.

OK. I’m done now. What goes in must come out … TMI, sorry!

My Basement’s Back!

October 30 was moving day. A few months having an extra human and a dog turned into 10 1/2. The final month included an additional human. I got my basement back on October 30 when they moved into an apartment! What used be a makeshift bedroom (often with clothes, blankets, and dog toys all over the floor) is now this…Hey La! Hey La! My Basement's Back!I’m not sure what to call it now. A bonus room? It’s a space for sleepovers, TV watching, game playing, or just hanging out. It’s a space for guests to stay … if they’re not too squeamish about sleeping in a basement space that is very roughly finished. It’s not the most beautiful space, but we’re fortunate to have it. For that, I’m thankful!

Once I returned the futon to a couch, I added a couple new toss pillows and a cheap rug from Big Lots to cozy it up a bit and to cover the stained carpet. For a cheap rug, though, it matches the space perfectly by pulling out the brown as well as the light blue carpet that shows around the edges.

Some things really fell behind during that 10 1/2 months, mainly my photography. My website hasn’t been updated that entire time, and I didn’t actively pursue any sort of marketing to high school seniors because I knew I wouldn’t have the time to spend in my office editing photos much less creating the marketing. My blogging fell drastically as well. The new monitor to hook up to my laptop with the broken screen helped only a bit. We set up a small desk for it in the living room. It just didn’t have enough RAM to process raw photos, and there were too many distractions to focus on writing. I’m not sure where we’ll move that now. The Christmas tree has to go where the desk is currently situated. I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day! (Said in my best Scarlett O’Hara imitation.)

Plans now? I’m not quite sure, but it will definitely include at least a few hours per week focusing on photography work. Perhaps I’ll even venture back into making jewelry. Whatever the case, I should create a schedule to stick to. Without a schedule, I’m a mess! No focus! No direction!

So this was a scattered, near train wreck of a blog post. See? I’m out of practice!