Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Okay....when is enough, enough?

I'm a Pollyanna, I admit it. There are people who say they have never seen me without a smile on my face. I'm a true lemonade maker from the lemons I'm given. My favorite quotes have to do with having a positive attitude and finding the good in everything, everyone, and every situation. I can't help it. It probably comes from recognizing that there are always people who have it worse than me, no matter what. That's true isn't it?

Well I have been thrown so many lemons lately that I think I am going to drown in the lemonade. Things haven't gone well lately.

Every time I let myself feel grief I almost immediately remind myself how many good things are in my life, and for those I am ever grateful.

Someone told me recently that maybe the reason things keep happening to upset my life is because I never let my life get upset. Well that's just darn unfair if that's true! Honestly, I do feel blessed, but if anyone told me they were going through some of the things I'm going through, I would really feel bad for them, yet I don't give myself that same sympathy.

Here it is with as much emotion as I can muster for myself:

We bought our first house when I was 21 years old in Fullerton and here I am almost 62 about to have no home. Maybe there are some things I could have done along the way to change the situation partially but for the most part this loss is not because of any mistakes I have made.

I have had a multitude of health issues, but I am grateful to keep chugging along. This past year those problems plus stress have caused me to become too tired....well beyond tired, I am suffering from extreme exhaustion. I work all week, drive 110 miles a day back and forth, and on the weekends I sleep to prepare myself for the next week.

I've also lost my husband, well actually I didn't lose him, he chose to leave, and with him he took what I considered to be an excellent marriage. I have pondered, reviewed and tortured myself, but though I don't profess to be perfect, I KNOW I was in the marriage 100%. There was nothing more important to me, and I honored every vow, covenant, and promise I made. I was there for him in every way possible, sometimes probably more than I should have been. It was the biggest loss I have ever felt, and even though I can recognize the virtues in my life, I am still mourning.

Yesterday my boss told me that he is forced to cut my wages, my hours, or let me go. He just hired someone in January. She is an amazing worker, no doubt, and she makes less than I do. She is Hispanic and has that community that we have never been able to fully enter until now. The other person in the office has just been with Farmers for 5 years. So together they have less than half of my 26 years of experience in the business, and they make more than half of my pay. They aren't losing money, hours, or their job. Why? Yes my health has had an effect on my performance, but even at a lower performance rate I still function better than most people in my position. Is this a medical discrimination? Age discrimination? No, I think it is experience discrimination. I make more money than most of the people in my position. They are paying me pretty much what my previous employer was paying me when they bought him out. I haven't asked for increases (except when gas went through the roof the first time) because I was aware that they paid me more than most. But they were reaping the benefits of my experience as well. A couple years ago I found someone who was going to pay me an equitable salary and they offered me some incentives, which they recently pulled....a hint of what was coming, and so I felt valued and chose to stay. Besides, I love my clients. Now, there is no offer and I can't survive without the income. So they have taken away my pride and my independence which were almost all I had left.

No, that's not true, is it? I have my granddaughters and future grandchildren, my kids and their spouses, my extended family, and my faith. The Lord is with me. I will survive in spite of crap. Crap!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day "Neighbor Day"

When I was a young girl we lived at 1569 S. Forest Street in Denver, Colorado. We moved in our brand new home in 1956. It was a cool ranch style home with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and an unfinished basement. At that time there were my Mom and Dad, and 3 sisters. Mom was very pregnant and my brother Bill was born shortly afterward. Eventually that house would hold 7 children and my folks and sometimes lots of cousins. It never seemed that crowded and it amazes me how big houses have become, and how it seems that every child has to have their own room ....but that's another story. It's always fun moving into a new housing tract because everyone is new and so the neighbors grow their lives together, and that's the way it was there in Denver. There were no privacy fences in Colorado, we had chain link between our houses, and that was even too confining, so stiles (stairsteps) were built over the fences to enable us to move between neighbors more easily. A tradition was started in that neighborhood that carries forth today, Neighbor Day. Everyone got their chores done quickly and then games were set up in each of the back yards....badmitton, ping pong, volleyball, croquet, swimming pools etc. We could move between the houses having fun with all the neighbors and the day would culminate with a pot luck dinner and one of the homes. What fun we had and what memories we built.
The memories were so strong and so fun that when we moved in our house on Larkspur Lane in 1977 I wanted to make sure to create the same feelings for my family. So on our first Labor Day there on Larkspur Lane we had our "Neighbor Day". We had it out under the street light in our cul de sac. The Pratt's didn't move in until the next month, and so the end of the street was a pile of dirt. There was no park where so many future celebrations would be held. It was a timid little start, but oh how it grew over the years. As each new neighbor moved in they were immediately apprised of the closeness of the neighborhoods and of the Larkspur Lane block parties. We had lots of people move in and out...the Castelaws, Romo's, Ron Smiths, Siaosi's, Fellbaums, Durham's, too many to mention them all....hopefully I will get reminders from my kids and other neighbors, but the core group that eventually moved in and stayed through the raising of our children became known as the "Larkspur Mafia". This group consisted of the Pratt's, Trosper's, Greg Smith's, Rouleau's, Pederson's, Hanson's, Torgerson's, Fellbaum's, and Durham's. As neighbors came and went, joining into and leaving the fun, this group would always be there. We would kind of trade turns being hosts which meant "who would make, print, and deliver" the flier to the entire block, then at around 2:00 in the afternoon we would start peeking out our windows to see if Betty and Marce had started heading down to the end of the cul de sac and that would be our cue to head out for "Neighbor Day".
Usually we would set the barbecues in the street, and the tables up on the grass for the rest of the food...and there was always tons of food. Everyone got creative at Labor Day picnics and brought out their best side dishes and desserts. There were always activities, sometimes a little baseball, croquet, horseshoes, swimming at the pool, balloon tosses, water fights. The best was the year that Marcel Hanson brought out a piece of plastic and we somehow hooked the water up to it and made this awesome "slip and slide" that we all took our turns on. Mostly though, I remember the women sitting in a circle just chatting with each other. It was a last hurrah before the kids were back in school. Sometimes it was burning hot, and sometimes it was cold. Remember the year we all had to put sweaters, blankets, little ski hats on to stay warm? I think that was when Emily Pratt was just a baby. It was freezing that year. So much nostalgia.
My kids did build those special memories with their neighborhood, the Larkspur kids, and all of the shared holidays. We also celebrated Memorial Day block parties, 4th of July shared fireworks, Christmas parties with caroling, summer plays, break dancing shows. It was a bunch of brothers and sisters living together on that block. Sometimes they fought, but they grew up together as one big family. The parents shared memories of raising our kids together. I remember the year and a half that we had 19 brand new drivers on the block......scary! We all watched out for each other and each others kids too. I have heard some great stories from my kids lately that some of the other parents were right there to protect and scold my kids when I wasn't around.
I will never forget the memories of my childhood and as a young parent when we drew together as a community and celebrated patriotism, family, and friends. Marque and Sarah have that kind of relationship with their neighbors in American Fork, Utah. They say their neighborhood parties are like the Larkspur Mafia get-togethers "on steroids". They have taken it to the next level with snow cone machines, bouncers, and elaborate water slides, but they are building memories with their neighbors. Because of that relationship they never want to leave. They want to raise Leah and future children within that safe cocoon. Jim and Sam have built a strong relationship with their neighbors as well. The whole neighborhood can be found quite frequently at Don and Candice's (across the street) swimming, barbecuing, dancing, and playing games together. Cynthia and Scott just bought a HUGE new house to start their life together. They plan to have and raise their family there. Scott said he loved the security of living in the same place for his whole life and wanted to give his children the same experience. I am sure the Larkspur Block parties added to the fun and the security. I hope they will take the time to get to know their neighbors and start the tradition in their new neighborhood. They have a park right across from their house that would be perfect for gathering people together.
Unfortunately things have changed. People have moved, divorced, and passed away. Only the Smiths and the Pratts are there now. Occasionally we will get together and remember the old days when we were young, and our kids were young. The talk between the women went from baby showers, to back to school breakfasts at Denny's, to weddings, grandchildren, body aches and pains, to mourning our loved ones...but who can understand better than those who have lived your life with you. Thanks for the memories Larkspur Mafia! I love you all!!!!!