Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where am I supposed to be?

Those closest to me know that I had the rug pulled out from under me a couple of months ago. The company I worked for closed without warning and filed for Bankruptcy. Since things were going well at work, it came as a surprise. I, along with some co-workers, went along in denial for a while before the finality sank in to us. The people you work with become friends and family. And, nothing would ever be the same for us no matter how much we all wanted to stay together.

I was left with some time on my hands, but ended up facing one challenge after another in the following weeks. It was all ordinary problems - the kind you face every day. A minor illness that dragged on probably due to stress, money issues, etc. Though they seemed huge, they became minor when a family member faced possible surgery. There's nothing like sitting in a surgeon's office to put everything in perspective.

On a particularly difficult day, two old friends called me out of the blue. They were just thinking of me and wanted to reach out to say hello. None of us have to wonder what power prompted them to call or why I was home to take the calls. I was fortunate to be surrounded by the love of friends. Several friends were there to wait in the hospital for test results over the course of several days. The longest day at the hospital was made easier by a dear friend that spent her birthday waiting with me. She simply said she was glad to be born on that day so that she could eventually be there at the hospital for me. One friend mowed our massive yard and kept a watch on the house. Other friends provided us with some delicious home-made meals. When there is a crisis in the South, we cook!

Thankfully, we were blessed and everything worked out okay. Slowly the day to day problems were again weighing on my mind. I started a new job and began learning a new routine. One day last week, I was late leaving the office and delayed even longer running an errand. I was pretty tired and really irritated at the delays. When I was finally on my way home, I ended up stuck in traffic. The reason behind the traffic tie up was an accident. Looking at the mangled cars, I was thankful that I had been running late so that I didn't end up in the middle of the accident. Further down the road, the bottom let out of the sky and I had to slow down to a crawl again. I really began to wonder if I'd get home before bedtime.

Forgetting about the good fortune of not being in an accident, I was getting bogged down in the stress of driving home in a thunderstorm. Then, a few miles from home, the skies cleared up and the most beautiful rainbow came out. It was so clear and bright that it looked like a painting. As I looked closer, I could see a faint rainbow next to the brilliant first one. A double rainbow! You just can't help but smile at the promise of tomorrow when you see a rainbow. It makes everything seem clear. I was where I was supposed to be at that moment. Wherever I am and whatever is going on around me, I know I'm where I should be at that moment. I also know that if I need help in that moment, it will be there. It may not be what I think I need, but in time, everything will become clear.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Poor Man's Shrimp

I never really thought about growing up poor at the time. Pretty much everyone was in the same situation so it didn't seem different. Since my parents had grown up during the depression and war years, they felt fortunate even during the lean years. We were not concerned about what our neighbor's had, but were more concerned about putting food on the table or getting money for a truck repair. Many nights for supper, Mom would feed me mustard and onion on toast. As a child, I never missed the sandwich filling because Mom made it seem like a treat. As an adult, I know it was because we didn't have any meat on hand.

Now days I think children are exposed to so much thru the Internet, television, movies, etc. that they are more than aware of what might be missing. Even as adults, we all want the 'latest' electronic toy. Do we really need the latest hot item? It seems the more the world changes, the more it stays the same. With daily 'bad' news, I think we're all longing for a simpler time and a little slower pace. Remember playing cards? You know, the kind you shuffle with your hands rather than clicking with a mouse on your computer? How about board games or puzzles? When was the last time you did one thing with no distractions? Maybe reading a book without the television or computer running in the background? Or, enjoying a quiet drive without the radio blaring or the cell phone ringing? Walking without an i-pod so that you actually hear the birds singing? Or maybe just listening to the wind blow.....

All of that brings me to the title of this post, Poor Man's Shrimp. This was a tradition in our house for as long as I can remember. Mom would mix up some home-made cocktail sauce made with equal parts of horseradish and ketchup. Then we'd dip leaves of lettuce in the sauce, close our eyes, and take a big bite. It tasted like shrimp! Maybe it was the crunchy lettuce combined with a little imagination or the power of suggestion. Either way it made for some wonderful memories.