Saturday, September 28, 2013
Another busy week. I spent the first few days in Tustin, Michigan, a place I'd never heard of, at a conference on crisis intervention. It was interesting on many levels. The evening program began with a piper in a small inside room -- not a good idea, I thought my eardrums were going to burst, and I LIKE bagpipes. But the food was great and there was a bonfire every night (with too many private conversations, but still), and I love those. Those are my feet in the fire photo -- the bottom of one of my shoes started to melt and smoke, just a warning to the rest of you!
I am a believer in the process of crisis intervention, so the conference was useful in that sense. But, as always, for me the lessons often come from the negatives, so it was especially interesting to experience, again, a crisis of identification with chaplaincy in general. I was one of the few new attendees, so I had a chance to observe the lack of hospitality and welcome, and the judgment of different ideas. For one thing, there was a lot more talking about what good and helpful listeners we are than there was good and helpful listening. Old ideas were encouraged and repeated ad nauseum, while new ideas were not discussed and were even censored. And although most people were not actively unfriendly, they hung together in their like-minded groups and did not include 'outsiders' in their conversations. I am not easy to know, so I don't blame anyone for lack of warmth, but it was a good reminder to me of how I want to behave when there are new people on my turf. The conference lodging was in a beautiful setting though, and fortunately I am content to spend my hours alone or just listening, so it was all good. And in the crowd of well over 100 people, I met three women who were genuinely friendly, and one of them actually made an effort to connect with me and that made all the difference. (and she referred to me as THIN, so how could I not like her?!) It was a good reminder that one person's small efforts can change an entire experience for another, and deep down, I think, we all want to cause that change.
Back home it was back to my job and more work on painting my porch. The painting goes slowly because there are so many railings and surfaces, and because I need to time my work around the letter carrier's schedule because the surface can't be walked on or touched for hours after it is applied.
And at home I've again been able to practice my CW (Morse Code) again, and am horrified at how my skills began to slip with just three days away. I want to start practicing more frequently but struggle to fit it in just once a day. There are so many things on my To Do list, and so few actually seem to get done.
As I've said before, another thing I need to get serious about is creating a walking routine. I've gained five pounds (not good) so I have plenty of incentive, but it's been hard to get started again. My current excuse is that my back went into some kind of spasm a couple of weeks ago, before I got to my fishing trip, and I am still babying it for no reason at all because babying doesn't help. The spasms strike without warning so my avoidance of exercise is irrational. There's no excuse; laziness is just my fall-back position, and exercise is probably exactly what my back needs.
We had a very scary event this week when one of my grandkids got a woodchip in his eye and spent many anxious hours in the emergency room. A playground accident -- a little girl was chasing him and threw a handful of wood chips at him. I told him I had come prepared to lecture him about safety glasses until I heard the story, and he said that maybe he needs safety glasses for recess. The result, a cut on his eye, has been painful, but the doctors don't think his blurry vision will be permanent, and we are all grateful for that. The next day he wanted to go to school after a follow-up doctor's appointment and I drove him there. He looked around my cluttered back seat and said, 'Grandma, would you like me to help you organize your car some day soon when I have time?' Clearly his eyesight is still good enough to see my mess. Add to list -- clean the car.
I had a radio meeting this week where we practiced emergency communications, passing messages through half a dozen people. It was a lot of fun. To my relief, I didn't mess up although I was the newest member and the only first-timer, and I learned quite a bit.
This week also brought a work-retreat for some of our volunteers. Because of my experiences at the conference, I changed the retreat theme from Gratitude to Hospitality. I wouldn't want any of our patients or families to feel like they weren't welcome, and I saw first hand that well intentioned people don't always know how to be hospitable. Too, I want to take some time to welcome and affirm our volunteers by showing some hospitality myself. We did a variety of reflection and crafts, and made silver boxes filled with reminders to be gentle and hospitable with themselves and others.
Maybe more noteworthy, I turned another Bride down. I met with her and her fiance and gave them a price but they hadn't signed a contract or given me a retainer because they wanted to think about it. A couple of weeks later they asked me to marry them and I said I would, and they were going to send the retainer later. A week or so after that, still no retainer, she asked me my price again and I told her again (which I promise you, is less than half my competition's). She got snippy in a series of emails and lied to me about what I had agreed to do, but of course I had taken notes of the conversation. I finally wished her well and told her that she has more than a year to plan and I was sure she'd find an officiant she could trust and be happy with. It was funny, because almost every other bride has simply said that money was tight and I always drop my fee, but it really annoyed me that she accused me of changing the price on her. I didn't answer her final emails saying she was "just kidding," "a girl can try, can't she?," and that she "really liked" me. I felt a little rude, but decided it would be bad karma for both of us for me to do that wedding.
Tomorrow I will (hopefully) finish the first coat of paint on my porch. I've had to keep a clear path because of the mail carrier, but tonight I will paint myself into the house and hope it's dry enough to walk on by morning! The wood is soaking in the stain like crazy, so I might need to buy another gallon, but I hope not. Partly because paint is expansive but, let's face it, mostly because I do not enjoy or do a good job at painting. I will be glad when this job is done!