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On Getting What You Pay For

For decades I lived my life waiting for sales, buying what is on clearance racks and hoping against all odds that I could find a coupon.  I still have nightmares over the $3 shoes (BRIGHT yellow with 4 inch hard … Continue reading

It’s all in the timing…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOkay, There comes a point where I have to remember to shut up and listen. I know I realize this periodically. Life has been reminding me of that quite a bit lately.
This morning, I sat waiting for the lift bridge and for not one but two freighters to go through the Cuyahoga river. I realized that I live in a city replete with lift bridges and drawbridges… and with a river like this there comes the necessity of occasional pauses in the day’s hurry scurry, helter skelter bull…$%^&… There are times where a pause is just a pause and the pause is exactly what is needed. Time enough to watch the smoke stacks of the boats make the bend… to hear the birds and the metal on metal screech whine toot of the trains… to see the bright yellow canary in a bright yellow flower… to take a slow deep breath (or twenty or thirty) and relax. Was I late? Yep. Was it all good? Yep.
It’s funny… I had just gotten off the phone with my mom when I got stuck in traffic. We were talking about being where you need to be… where you are supposed to be… and… thoink… duh…
I was hired at US Steel because Ida Flynn told me that I was GOING to go test for the Internship at US Steel the ONLY semester I could actually qualify the ONLY week I could actually test (given that we went on vacation) in a college career that was end to end in 2 years and 4 months. Yes it is possible. Yes, I regret not doing it slower because my QPA would have been better. I swore I would never work in a big city. I worked in downtown Pittsburgh. I was department lead for the Y2K project with 12 contractors and I had an incredible implementation. It was such a good job that I was “rewarded” with being transferred to the iron range of Norther Minnesota. Which is beautiful and where I saw eagles and heard loons and I watched the northern lights.
I was told when I left US Steel that I would regret it. I don’t. It’s ironic.. .the boats that fascinate the crap out of me now are the ones that left the port of Duluth carrying Ore… the pellets we made that came from the dirt we blew up. I don’t regret it. I miss the northern lights and listening to the lakes freeze in November, but I don’t regret either going to MN or moving from MN. I learned how to be an Oracle DBA in Mt Iron and that backup and recovery are the most important parts of the job.
I left there for Amarillo. SMALL company… friendly town. I was hired as a DBA despite having no REAL DBA experience, because I was trainable. Turns out Trisha was right. I am trainable. I learned to be a good DBA and I learned (in 900 hours in 3 months) to be an Apps DBA. It meant I lived my dream of publishing a book and it laid the groundwork for the next steps. The company was acquired by a huge company in Chicago and I went looking for not Chicago.
Poof… Austin… BAD company to start out with… then Oracle… then another company where I lost myself. Where I learned that I have the ability despite RA to bust a move and walk a half marathon or four. My first I hurt so bad I almost quit yards from the finish line. My second, my son medaled me despite the flu. My third bear and squirrel girl did with me… and I thought I was going to not make it… and I walked in with my son and (even though I still don’t think I’m anything special) I became his hero. And because I understood what forever conditions mean, I was able to cope when my daughter got Epilepsy, when my son got epilepsy and when my son got Sjogrens… and when friends ended up with RA, I was able to be there, to tell them that it is not the end of all normal and to get their butts into the doctors. It took some time for me to get my head around the fact that Autism isn’t the end of normal, it is just a different normal and that sometimes when you get answers to all of the hard questions in your life you can take a deep breath and relax and be your own beautiful self. I’m incredibly proud of my little boy who just took a deep breath and became himself.
And now, here I am. Because I was incredibly frustrated with being told how worthless I was I started looking for elsewhere to be. Because I was scared that the 412 area code on my phone meant that something was wrong with the family I answered the call… and despite not believing that I was in any way qualified I took the chance. Despite getting horribly mixed up in the first phone screen with contact information, I made it through that. Despite feeling like I blew it by not knowing current technology in my first technical screen, I made it through. Despite throwing up all over town my all day interview went remarkably well. And despite being terrified of leaving my baby behind in Texas and moving half way back across the country and not knowing if I would let myself and my family down, here I am. I am in the Cleveland Clinic medical system. I am back near “home”. I have found a house that was waiting for me. I am settling into a job that I really enjoy.
I am where I need to be to help family understand. I am where I need to be to allow my little girl to find her wings and to allow my little boy find his feet and his wings. I’m so very proud of my babies.
Looking back… looking around… looking at everything… I realize that I am right where I am meant to be. everything is working exactly as it should. My job is to breathe… to be kind to myself and to quietly do the needful.
Nameste

I love you mom… I’m listening…

On Listening to my own message

Okay… so… sitting here drinking Oprah Chai with a little cone of incense burning.  Dog and cat resting from the latest chew the wump game.  I’m thinking back over the past 7 months… over the past 7 years… over the past few weeks… and over a conversation that I had over listening to the advice I give to people.

I sit here and realize that I had allowed the messages that I was getting from the person I used to report to to get into my head and eat away at my brain.  It’s hard to believe in your own abilities when you get glowing performance reviews and then face a one on one telling you that you probably don’t have what it takes to be a productive member of the team… that you are actually (despite your reviews) probably going to be better off looking for a different job (which I did and I’m very VERY happy I did) because you just really don’t have what it takes and everyone hates working with you anyway.

I keep trying to shake the cobwebs out and every once in a while they creep back in.  This morning I was thinking about the conversation (the one on one where I was summarily told how much I lack) and realize it has been a while since I have thought about it.  That is has been a while since I’ve cared.  And I realized I don’t care.  Does it still sting that every goal that was set for me was snatched from be by the man sitting across the desk because the task was fun and he was bored in his manager role?  Yeah.  Because I like learning and having an effect… making a difference… but… I don’t have to take on his lameness as my own.

A few minutes ago, my cousin posted on her wall… Half a Century… Hear me roar… it’s her 50th birthday today.  And I realized… that… :) I really need to hear my own voice, to listen to the messages that I tout (they are not diatribes, they are not empty messages, sometimes you just have to take the time to shut up and listen to yourself).

It’s the start of a brand new day, a new week… the first day of forever.

Hear me roar…

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My Brazilian Adventure

I’m sitting in the quiet (okay… so I can hear the birds… there are geese in this morning… starting to think about flying south.. the wind chimes, the water fountain and the traffic down on I-71 and the dog and … Continue reading

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Finding an Oasis

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So, this morning I’m sitting on some amazingly to DIE for chairs.  I want one for home.  I want several for home.  I don’t know where to get them but I want them.  They are huge round wicker “chairs”… my … Continue reading

Sao Paulo Sunday and Campo Do Jordao

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is another quiet morning. Quiet this morning is good. The sun is shining and it is warm outside and even though it bothers me that I know I’m kind of trapped in the hotel for the day, yesterday was an adventure day. I’m drinking instant Cappucchino and eating Oranges and potato chips.

The plant organized us an outing to Campo Do Jordao. It was winter festival and they said that it was something to experience. They were right. Maybe it would have been awesome to have had them book us an overnight like they did for the trekkers, but it was fun, anyway.

We were supposed to leave at 9. The car and driver were supposed to be ready to go at 9. We were hoping to get a bit of an earlier start… turns out we didn’t actually get started until 9:15 because the driver was late. The armored/bullet proof van was black and creepy.

It was me and three co-workers. I was the only girl. I was the only person born and raised in the United States. The cultural difference between where I am versus where I am from struck home. The cultural difference between the people who I was with versus who I am struck home just as deeply. I was “given the privilege” of sitting in the back seat of the van. I get car sick in the back seat riding in the United States. Driving here is a little bit of an adventure itself and the back seat of the van is not built for comfort (unlike the front seat and the middle row). It’s a bench with a back on it, not the contoured seats like the others. You can’t just climb in and out of the vehicle, you have to be let out of the vehicle after everyone else is out when the driver (because no one else would bother) folded the middle row seat up and let me out. It was a LONG 180 KM ride.

Campo Do Jordao is a German oasis in the middle of the most incredible trees I’ve seen in a long time. The pines are old growth. The mountains are beautiful. The vistas are stunning. And the buildings are very much German style.

There is a train that makes a journey through town. It is a steam train and it is very picturesque. It would have been awesome to have been able to have the time to take a ride. The people I was with said that they plan to have the company book an overnight stay when SIT (Systems Integration Testing) happens in October (Spring here). I’m betting whoever my counterpart is who is here at that time will have fun.

We got out at the Teleferico (chair lift) station and joined the queue to take the chairs up to the top of the hill. The wait in line was about 75 minutes. The round trip cost 11 Reals (about 5 dollars). The queue wound around the shops and next to the swanboat pond. The boats were neat and they were always busy. Apparently the winter festival really is a huge deal.

I’m very much not big on cables and riding on them I hate the one at Wonderland in Amarillo. I hate the one at Cedar Point. I hated the one at Disney when it was at the Magic Kingdom in DisneyWorld. But it was driven home to me that you do not be alone. It was decided that we were going to ride it up the mountain and I had to go. It is not safe to be alone.

There has to be some irony in the fact that I have eaten almost every evening mean alone in my room.

If I heard “take my picture” once, I heard it two hundred times. With my camera, with their phones. If I wasn’t actively DOING something, I was being asked to take someone’s picture. I ended up with less than a dozen pictures of myself, and two of those were selfies. It left me feeling a bit like a flunky… eh..

The ride up the Teleferico ride up was kind of terrifying. My left hand gripped the lap bar so tightly that my knuckles turned white… but I got some awesome pictures. My right hand gripped my camera so tightly so did they. My hands are kind of whining today. The view and the pictures were worth it.

And I even found squirrel girl a wool hoody that will be warm enough through the late fall. It made me smile. The fact that I bought it from the stall of native South Americans was awesome. To the sound of the music of the Mayans. It will make me smile to see her wear it. And next to the stall where that was, I found monkey butt and his partner rainbow bracelets. I miss him. It will make him smile (I hope).

The view from the top is really very stunning. You can see for miles and miles and miles… what looks like alpine villages.

Going down, the ride was much more beautiful. I was no less scared (and it was here I took two selfies… I hate taking selfies) than when I went up, but the view was incredible.

For lunch it was decided that we would have pizza. Wasn’t really in the mood for Pizza… it’s a German village, I was dying for Bratwurst. But… we had pizza. Getting there was fun, though. They nail orange halves to split rail fences and the parrots come down from the forests to eat. Parrots. they just… come munch on the oranges.

The Pizza here doesn’t have tomato sauce on it… and it is usually not ordered for anything before Dinner.  It is toppings only. I had cheese, mushrooms and onions. I should have had the nutella or the banana with ice cream. Ah… regrets.

After lunch we went to see the brewery, which wasn’t actually a brewery but a bar. We didn’t stay, then, for beer because daylight only lasts till about 5:30 and we wanted to go to see the park. We didn’t realize it was a 30 minute drive to the park or that the gates close at 4 although you can stay till 5 if you are inside by 4. The driver was kind of not excited about the prospect of staying. He was outvoted.

We were just going to go for a little walk. Take some pictures of everyone else at the park… then head back to town to drink some beer and head back to Sao Paulo. I was asked about ten times if I drink beer. I take MTX. I can’t drink anything alcoholic even if I wanted to. I let them know I can’t. It was irrelevant.

We saw people ziplining when we got inside and parked. “We” decided (Again… we have to travel as a herd and stay in our pack) that since it was only 30 Real to do the zip lining and everyone wanted their pictures and videos taken while they were on their adventures that we would do it.

Yay me.

Ziplining is actually kind of cool. GETTING to the ziplining is kind of terrifying. There are five bridges and two zip lines. The first bridge is round ladder rungs on a rope bridge ladder rung distance apart.

I HATE rope bridges. I hate swinging bridges. I’m not overly fond of heights. We travel as a herd. Stay with your pack… I spent half of the adventure singing Let It Go under my breath… the other half singing Still I Fly. I know I’m the freaky Disney Chick but they kind of get me through the tough times. I don’t believe that life is a fairy tale, but I do believe that if I listen, really listen, to what the songs say, maybe I can take to heart the message and find my way better.

And it keeps me from saying things that I will regret later… usually… sometimes not…

It was great. I got videos of everyone else zip lining. Thank God I gave the driver my camera at the beginning or I would never even have proof that I actually was in the freaking trees.

So… the first bridge is over a pond and up up up into the trees. The trees are beautiful. You can hear birds and monkies in the distance.

You get to an octagon in the trees, built around the trunk. You are always tethered to cables high in the trees. you move the metal tether with you as you go. One tree at a time.

The second bridge was a rope bridge with wood steps the size of dinner plates that were about 3 feet apart. Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle… forty feet up… Let it go… let it go… I know most of the words to that one. I’m working on Still I Fly. Around the next tree… fifty feet up… the next bridge was a branch no bigger around than my calf. Turn sideways… remember to breathe… There is no way down but forward and through it. One step at a time. One breath at a time.

I’m part of the herd, but I’m in this alone. I get their pictures but I realize by this bridge that I am REALLY in this alone.

Another bridge… Take my picture!!! Wait till I’m half way across then take my picture… I got REALLY tired of hearing take my picture.

This bridge was ladder rungs again. But this time Further apart and less stable. Feet in the middle of the rungs. Breathe breathe breathe… FIGHT to not cry. 70 feet up.

We are at the first of two zip lines. Listen to the man explain to you in Portuguese how to zip line while you listen to the instructions on how everyone wants their videos taken. I’m last. I get NO videos. But I get the satisfaction of knowing that I did this even though I’m fighting tears EVERY step of the way.

They clip you onto the cable with your rolly thing. Sit down and pull up your knees so you don’t catch your feet in the trees… I know why they call it zip lining. The whine sounds like a zip… And all I hear is that stupid pig in the TV commercial…

One more bridge… this one is all rope. you know those cargo nets? Yeah… one of those… except this one has broken rope places. I hate cargo nets. I HATE cargo nets. I hated them when Adam was 5 and we had to hunt him at Sea World. I don’t care what they are going to say let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway….

The guy in front of me wanted his picture taken while I was still trying to get off the zip line and stand up. I none to politely told him that he could bloody well wait until I could actually stand up and didn’t have to use my hands to actually DO what I was doing. I was kind of getting testing by this time. My chest hurt from the stress and from being so tense in the climbing… I was not in the mood for being flunky at this point.

We are at the last zip line. Make sure I get EVERYONE else’s video zipping on down. Yeah, whatever. We are 100 feet up. Portuguese… Sit down and hold your legs straight out in front of yourself and GO!!!

I did it. I made it. I didn’t let anyone see me cry. AND The driver actually got a couple good pictures of me so I could prove that I was there and I did it too.

By now the sun was setting and we walked a bit but not far. The forest is beautiful. The peaceful sound of nature and nothing was very welcome. So was the coke. Pee break on the way back to the car and then back into Campo to try the beer… another coke… then back into Sao Paulo after just a FEW more pictures to cap off the evening.

I “got” to ride in the back seat on the way back again. And I puked when we got back to the hotel. Dinner was three crackers and some Pepsi. This morning I wake up achy and starving. I can’t believe still that I did it yesterday. I proved to myself that I could do it. I proved to myself that fear is just fear… and I can do it… I ventured out this morning to buy myself a stuffed Mr Potato Head to celebrate my adventure. I love him… and he was cheaper than I thought he would be.  He joins Adam’s penguin, the Snoopy Amandya bought me and my Eeyore who has been with me through so many adventures… from the Disney trip that convinced me that something was not right with my body (Hello RA) through everywhere and everything… I can do this… and if I can you can.

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I’m going to take on the week and the world… I’ve been avoiding my methotrexate shot. I went to have Cafe con Leches and strawberry and vanilla pudding at the coffee shop next door. I am looking forward a hot bath in just five more days.

 

 

“Still I Fly”

There’ a time in your life
When the world is on your side
You might not feel it
You might not see it
But it surrounds you like a light
Makes you stronger for the fight

Never letting go
Gotta learn to grow
Watch me as I touch the sky
Still I fly
Now I know it’s what I gotta do
Find a dream that’s new
Give it all I got this time
Still I fly
Still I fly

Feel the wind all around
All the courage to be found
Who knows what’s out there
I know I’ll get there
Oh off into the sun
I know I’m not the only one that’s

Never letting go
Gotta learn to grow
Watch me as I touch the sky
Still I fly
Now I know it’s what I gotta do
Find a dream that’s new
Give it all I got this time
Still I fly
Still I fly
Still I fly

Breathe it in
I’m gonna shine
It’s my moment
Gotta live and live it right
I’m flyin
Flyin so strong

I’m movin’
I’m movin’
I’m movin’ on

Never letting go
Gotta learn to grow
Watch me as I touch the sky
Still I fly
Now I know it’s what I gotta do
Find a dream that’s new
Give it all I got this time
Still I fly
Still I fly

 

SPENCER LEE
Planes Fire & Rescue

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Practice What I Preach

It’s Saturday morning.  The sound of the city not quite ready to wake up yet is interesting.  There are birds.  At least there are birds. I’m trying so hard to think positive.  Attitude determines altitude.  Whether you think you can … Continue reading

And we’re off

imageSitting at the airport. The beautiful sunrise so close to boarding bodes well for the trip… I hope…

Snarky butt head man got to move to a window seat after all. I would have made him stay in his ASSIGNED seat if had been that bitchy to me after I had been as polite as the flight attendant was to him. Sarcasm isn’t always required. Sometimes polite works better.

Take off was on time and timed perfectly. The sun was pink and orange and gold on the surface of Lake Erie and it glowed silver off of the top of the Key Bank building… My now version of the fish building in Austin. I miss you angel boy.

Fog snuggles comfortably along the river banks and vallies. It is reluctant as I was to get up.

My shoes are a little snug this morning. I’m glad I had my prednisone to toss in my pills that have to go bag.

I had to rummage to find a pen to take notes with on the air sick bag. I’ve come to realize that I rely on them greatly when I fly. Not for their intended purpose. Rather as handy note paper. The restaurant napkin of the sky. I make some of my most interesting observations on air sick bags. I have them squirreled away… Loathe to part with them even after their words have been transferred for posterity.

And through the clouds I fly.

Eeyore (good grief that donkey has seen it all) is once again my travel companion. The people behind me in security thought it was awesome. Older couple who work at Disney… Eeyore and my Donald Half Marathon shirt made for companionable conversation during the wait. I realized that I bought Eeyore and customized him that last trip to Disney before I was diagnosed. That is a trip that will haunt me forever. He is a welcome reminder that even when I’m gloomy the sun keeps on rising.

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International Adventures Continue

So, I’m sitting on my front porch dressed in a way that would have utterly mortify my daughter a year ago.  The humidity of the morning seems to have dulled most of the sound from just about every…. everything but … Continue reading

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Guilt and Exhaustion

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I’m currently running on 6 plus weeks since my last orencia infusion.  I’m recalling how much it sucked to be eight weeks without it.  Last night it hit me hard what this time it is feeling like.  I had to … Continue reading