So: very bad day

Ever have a day that was so messed up that you wonder what kinds of karmic misdeeds you did to piss off the universe so much? A day when you were already feeling frayed, frazzled, and funky (not the good kind either)?

That was my yesterday.

First, my iphone did a swan dive into a nice wet, round porcelain recepticle. At my work. Yes, I tried to save it. Reached in, fished it out and shook the toilet water out of it. Used air in a can on it.

It was alive long enough for me to back it up to my computer, then it started randomly calling people (hi Claire!) and finally died. Hopefully Gazelle will give me $20 for it since that’s the going rate for a non-working iPhone. It tried to turn on one more time last night and then promptly gave up.

Now you’re sufficiently grossed out (sorry, I wasn’t going to try to flush it down and there was no other way to handle the situation without leaving it in the bowl longer than 30 seconds), I need to tell you the rest of the story.

It may be hard to believe, but my day got worse.

Yes, worse than the very nice Genius with the Italian accent at the Apple Store telling me the price tag of my new phone which made me gasp. It was first new iPhone I’ve had in ages. Usually I keep Bruce’s cast offs then use them until the battery no longer charges.

Truth be told, my iPhone was almost ready for replacement since I was having to have a charger handy at all times and recharge ½ way through the work day. Besides the obvious price tag sticker shock, the timing was really the problem. You see, I’m going on a business trip Wednesday morning. Going at lunch on Tuesday wasn’t going to happen since I already had a meeting scheduled. Then last night was Zumba and in order to get over to the Apple Store and get a new phone, I had to skip it. Grrr. I was already going to miss my booty shaking and sweating on Wednesday. Grrr.

As I headed down the highway from the office towards the Apple Store closest to my house, I noticed that my tire pressure light suddenly came on. Thinking one of my tires might be a little low, I got off at my usual exit and went to the first gas station for air. No luck on the air machine, but there was another gas station a few blocks away and I knew they had a machine.

When I got out of the car, I checked the usual suspects: my front tires. In the past that’s where the problem was. Then I saw my back passenger tire rapidly deflating.

UGH! Close to home. No phone. A flat tire with a big hunk of metal embedded right in the middle of the treads. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. And I hadn’t changed a tire in years. With the clock ticking and the Apple Store hours rapidly evaporating, I started unpacking the trunk. I also grabbed the manual since I didn’t want to screw anything up.

As I was sizing up the situation (and trying not to cry in frustration), a man called out to me and asked if I needed help. I didn’t want to bother him or anyone and said that I was ok. That’s when he insisted on helping. He wasn’t from around here, but he was in the area helping out on a job.

Neither he nor I could speak the other’s language very well, but we figured out between the two of us how to use the very new (and super stiff) tire jack and get the spare tire on. It probably took him a lot less time than it would have taken me since he was much stronger than I am. He was also probably much younger that I am.

Nice Man also told me it wasn’t proper for me to change the tire so that’s why he was helping. Maybe I reminded him a little of his mother or a favorite aunt.

While this was all happening, several more nice men stopped to ask if I needed help. Some were dressed for various trades, some were in various renditions of corporate business wear. One tradesman looking guy had a big old red and white pit bull in the back of his truck and seemed shocked when I said “I’m good, but I love your dog.”

When Nice Man was finished changing the tire and the spare was on, I thanked him profusely and asked if I could pay him something for his help. He said no and said that he was just doing what he was supposed to do. A good deed.

I thanked him over and over and probably made him a little embarrassed with my thank yous in the gas station parking lot. He was still in his car when I drove off, maybe waiting for a friend who worked at the gas station to finish his shift. And when I got home, Bruce drove me to the Apple Store.

While I was in the moment, it may have felt like the worse day ever, but in hindsight, perhaps it was one of the best.

First, it reaffirmed my belief in the power of the kindness of strangers.

Second, it helped to remind me that there is hope for the people of this country and not everyone is an angry, hateful person, despite what the news is portraying. There are nice people all around us, even at the corner gas station. All you have to do is listen.

 

 

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So: thanksgiving #2

I’m lucky to have two days a year that are recognized as days to be thankful. To be grateful. One month after the other. But I don’t need two turkey dinners with all the trimmings to remind myself that I need to think about how lucky I am. Bruce and I are crazy enough to be traveling on the busiest travel day of the year in the U.S. although we are not going to a particularly popular destination for most Americans. But we have 4 days off in a row and that’s the perfect time to head to the Great White North. A few days go there was three feet of snow, but we understand that there’s been a lot of melting and things have warmed up a bit, well, at least by Canada’s standards.

If you’re reading this post tonight, I want you to know that I am thankful that you read my words. I appreciate your comments that always seem to come at just the right time. Thank you. I appreciate that you are sharing with me, whether you know me in “real life” or you don’t. Thank you. You are my neighbor-friend and I am thankful that you’re sharing this big blue marble with me and that you care enough to learn about the adventures an amateur urban farmer, Bruce and the 4Gs. Hopefully we are entertaining you. Thank you for reading.

What else I am thankful for:

-Bruce. For an almost 1/2 century old who got his AARP membership tonight, he’s surprisingly youthful and fun. Happy almost birthday and thanks for 20-ish years.
-My family members who are spread all over the place. I wish I saw you all more, but I am so happy that we have the internet and social media. And cheap plane tickets! Visit me please!
-My friends who are also spread out all over the place. Your notes come at exactly the right time whether you’re here in Texas or further away. I am so glad we can connect with each other pretty much whenever we want. Know that when you visit DFW, you have a tour guide and a place to stay, as long as you’re not allergic to dogs. Thank you to those who have made the extra effort to reconnect in person when you’re in town.
-The kids in my life. Thank you for all the drawings and sweet notes and letting your parents take photos of you.
-My sweet grandma who will be 100 very soon. I really hope you love all the mail as much as I do.
-The 4G Network. So many dogs. So much personality. So much warmth. So much love. So much arm strength.
-The folks that watch after the Gs when we are traveling. You love them almost as much as we do and they know it. Thank you for letting us do what we need to do and giving us peace of mind.
-Not having to worry where the next meal is coming from or that there is money to pay the bills. We work hard but we also try to be smart and do what we can to help those who aren’t as fortunate as us.
-A roof over my head, clothes on my back, transportation, and recreation.

Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it in the USA and be thankful where ever you are.

For today’s gratuitous dog photo, I’d like to suggest that George is very thankful for some toy to put in his mouth:

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So: grateful gratitude

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Thank you for all of the nice feedback on yesterday’s post. I hope you all have seen the results of your kindness, your helpfulness, and your generosity today. Reading so many people’s responses and knowing that so many people shared the post with their friends, family and followers, certainly made me feel more hopeful. Here’s a secret: when I spread a little kindness, I think I get more out of it than the person or people that are the receivers! And that’s why, no matter how craptastical the day is, I try to make it better for someone else.

Yes, it’s a little selfish. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t always work. Some days I’m just in a funk or inside my own head. Or too damn busy. But for the last year or so I’ve deliberately tried to be a kinder me, even when I don’t feel like it.

I’ve also forced myself to be deliberately grateful.

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My beautiful gratitude journal made by my very talented friend Mary-Claire

In an effort to stay positive and focused on all the good that’s happening, I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal since the beginning of September and each day, I take a few moments to write down 10 reasons I am grateful. It was another one of my experiments like planting tomatillos or trying a complicated recipe. At first it felt a little silly and forced. But I made myself do it. Two months later, I actually like it. It reminds me of how much is going right, even when so much sounds like it’s going wrong. I track the lovely and nice things people do for me every day. I track the people who make my days better. I track the “tools” that make life better for me. Mostly, I track the things that mean something. If you’re in that kind of funk at the present moment or the “eating season” holidays make you feel blue, why not try it?

So much good happens everyday. But it’s like the comments and reviews on sites like Yelp, Amazon or even GlassDoor: it’s easier to point out the defects, problems and challenges. The things that went wrong—or at least not to your liking. Good is always our expectation. But when you don’t capture it, the good things become a tucked away memory that’s difficult to dredge up when you need it. You might already know that but I’m grateful that I figured that out for myself.

One last thing: I am also very grateful that the weekend is here. It’s time for a little down time. Maybe you’re going to kick back and relax a little like today’s gratuitous dogs of the day:

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Gidget and George enjoy snuggling while they watch tv • photo by Bruce

So: lucky

Apparently I write like Margaret Atwood, at least according to I write like. I get to collect frequent flyer miles for my business travel that I can use to visit my far away friends. I have a job that keeps me on my toes and stretches my brain. Plenty of free water is falling from the sky for the Urban Farm this month—and this week which is also lucky for Bruce. Three lab-ish Gs that will practically knock me over with joy when I return home from my travels on Thursday. And I have an amazing husband who holds down the household while I galavant all over the East Coast this week.

Someone didn't want me to go yesterday

Someone didn’t want me to go yesterday

I am very lucky.

Great friends who are loving and loyal. Coworkers who light up my days with their sense of humor and regional differences. The perspective that comes with age and experience. The miracle of a plant springing up from a seed. The tired feeling of a day well spent.

I know that I am lucky. I also know that in many cases, timing and chance is not enough. Being lucky is also a choose. Choosing to be positive. Choosing to work hard. Choosing to not take the easy way out. Choosing to try something new. Choosing to stand up for those who cannot.

And I try my best to be grateful for it everyday.

Last week, a former colleague posted a link to a blog post that I liked enough to share with some of the folks I work with. Even if you don’t work in the same industry as me, I think you’ll see that it applies to any vocation or job if you look at it with gratitude and appreciation.

Now on that note, it’s time to start the work day with gratitude and go out there and make some luck. Make it a great one!

So: gratitude

IMG_0023Thank you.

I appreciate that you are reading my blog. There’s lots to read on WordPress and elsewhere on the Internet, so thank you for stopping here.

I really enjoy reading your comments. I enjoy reading your blogs too, although sometimes I can’t think of a witty comment or much more than a sincere “thanks for sharing”. Or a like. I’m learning a lot and I thank you for your wonderful writing.

As I covered the raised beds tonight in the Urban Farm (it’s going to be below 40° F tonight), I thought how nice it is that you’re interested enough in my adventures in gardening to  comment on the photos and words that I’m putting out there. And offer suggestions, comments and kudos.

I think it’s great you’re encouraging my evenings with Morty (the sewing machine) and that you think wine bags are a step in the right direction to develop some real sewing skills.

So thank you. I appreciate you!

So: middle seat view

I travel a bit for my job. I love traveling and airports and have since I was a little girl. When I was a kid going to the airport meant either than someone was visiting us (like Grandma and Grandpa) or that we were visiting someone (like Grandma and Grandpa). Or we were moving to somewhere far a way and much more interesting than where we were living.

Airports for me, even with their security checkpoints, expensive food and drink prices, and often grouchy flight attendants (at least on American Airlines which is based in Dallas), are a place of excitement and anticipation. And people watching. Nothing I like better than to observe what’s going on around me.

One business trip last fall, I saw Santa Claus at DFW. No joke. He was in “civilian” clothes: a Christmas themed dress shirt and red tie with a jingle bell necklace for good measure. Not being quick enough on the iphone camera’s draw cost me a shot that would have made many children’s day. Hell, it made me believe too. It makes a good story though.

This trip had no Santa sightings, just very little sleep, lots of delays, a death-defying taxi ride, and very crowded flights. But what days like these teach business travelers is to be grateful for the good things that come to them. Even if they’re little things.

So while I write at 10,000 feet I am grateful for the following:

1. Wifi so I can catch up on work (and today’s post).

2. Being in the middle seat between a snoozing relatively handsome (that’s for you, Kate), reasonably sized man and my snoozing coworker LIsa rather than two large business men that have been working hard all day and are in need of a shower.

3. Getting on the earlier flight and beating the snow storm that is apparently hitting the east coast sometime tonight.

4. Tracy for watching the 3G Network so I didn’t need to worry about them.

5. Not having to be awake from 5 am CT until 1:30 am ET like yesterday.

6. A very hot shower to wake me up this morning after 5 hours of sleep.

7. A fantastic training session complete with a funny attorney.

8. Finishing up the training session early.

9  Being small enough to actually think the middle seat is fine for 3 hours.

10. The improvements made to the Philadelphia airport including the nice little wine bar where we killed a bit of time before the flight.

There’s something magical and transformative about travel. For me it always has the promise of excitement or a funny story to tell afterwards. People to see. New places to explore.

Even last nigh’s “death cab” adds a bit of novelty to this trip. A cab driver who was not only out of touch with his customers (he got out of the cab at one point to talk to his pals), didn’t know where he was going, and drove like a bat out of hell, makes for a tale that can be scaled up or down depending upon your audience.

On Saturday morning I get to do it all over again. But this time, my excitement wil be the excitement i felt as a kid going to visit my grandparents. Except now, I’m the attraction. Oh, and so is Uncle Bruce. We’re going to visit our twin nieces who just turned 3. They just got big girl beds and had a birthday party. They are ready to play Barbies with Uncle Bruce and have a tea party with their company. Maybe they’ll wear princess dresses. Or dig in the dirt. I can’t wait to see their little faces and hear about what’s going on at school.

Oh and it will be nice to see my brother and sister-in-law too.