I haven't blogged since Sunday, when I posted two items. Since then, a close co-worker had a heart attack, tornadoes twisted through the Norman and Oklahoma City areas, I kept praying and reading the Bible, I won a newsroom award, and I worked as hard as I ever have at my job in the continuing aftermath of the previous week's layoffs. I've come to the computer more than once today, thinking I could find some words to put things in perspective. But I guess that's not going to happen today. Sometimes a blog truly is just a web log, an online (and public) diary, per se.
The closest thing to insight or inspiration came today, when I helped distribute Angel Food boxes at church. More than anything, Angel Food reminded me that I often take things for granted. Being there this morning, I could see that people are very, very grateful for this food. One woman mentioned how she and her husband often don't have meat with their meals. Another woman, a first-time participant, had tears in her eyes as she filled her box. Asked if anything was wrong, she said she was just so grateful to be able to get this food. The Angel Food ministry, which our church has been involved with for several years now, helps provide quite an array of food for a low cost. I don't understand how it all works (I think it's nationwide; I know it's throughout the southern and middle U.S.), but I know when it's distributed one Saturday each month, many people are blessed.
In addition to the reminder that I often take eating what I want when I want it for granted, Angel Food distribution reminded me that I also take church volunteers for granted. Some of the men and women are there every month, without fail. I just make it when I don't have something else to do, and that something else often includes catching up on my sleep. There also are other volunteers who are sporadic, and some of the regulars weren't there today, so every body -- including mine -- was appreciated!
Looking back to the early parts of the week, my co-worker's heart attack and the worst tornadoes, all on Monday, made me realize there are some things you can't really plan for or schedule. You just have to deal with them. The co-worker seemed to have done many things to improve his health, and still he ended up with a heart attack. He survived the company layoffs -- and then suffered a heart attack. And those still on the job, all grateful to be employed even in conditions that involve fewer people doing the same amount of work, are left having to fill another void. (And vacations scheduled before the layoffs are still in effect, so now another key co-worker will be gone for two weeks.) Meanwhile, tornadoes, strong winds and hail -- the stories of the randomness of the onslaught and damage are almost as amazing as the stories of survival and picking up the pieces.
The other weird day was Thursday, which started with news that I had won a monthly award for my work as a copy editor ("catches" that kept more than a dozen significant errors from getting into the newspaper). With all the changes going on, I wondered whether those catches even matter. Maybe they do, even though it's harder to catch mistakes when you're working faster than ever. By the end of that day, another unexpected meeting brought news that a post-layoff routine that had just started to seem workable was being shaken up again. "Stunned again!" is how I expressed it to a friend Thursday.
In the past, I would have wanted to give up, feeling frustrated, exhausted and hopeless. But in a continuing pattern that I hope never ends, by Friday morning I was able to go to work and give my best effort to whatever tasks would come my way. For the foreseeable future, I'll probably go to work a little earlier and stay a later to get it all done, but I just cannot really complain. (Whenever I do find myself talking to someone and I hear it start to sound like I'm complaining, I catch myself. Truly, how can I complain? I CANNOT complain.)
Two big challenges regarding work for me are to not let it consume my life as I've let it do in the past, especially when I was a reporter, and also for me not to fall into compulsive eating habits. Excess food -- even healthy food -- does not help me work or live better. If I'm tired, I need to rest. If I'm bored, maybe I can take a quick break, walk a flight of stairs or something. If I'm frustrated or overwhelmed, I can pray at my desk or, again, take a quick break for prayer or maybe a phone call to a friend.
That's another reason I'm glad I helped with Angel Food this morning. No one makes me feel guilty if I don't help. But it feels so good to help. It's just a small thing, but small things can make a difference. My weekly 12-step meeting and now trying to get some of this confusion expressed in writing helps round out the day. I pray it will free me to focus on some chores. I feel more confident than usual that it will.
Since this has turned into a catch-all blog entry, I want to also mention a few other things, "for the record":
-- I'm probably not going to meet my fundraising goal for Cleveland County's Relay for Life. In this tough economy, it's hard for me to ask people to donate money for research. I think research is important, but it seems to me that giving money to help people have food or medicine is more crucial right now. But I'm totally supportive of keeping the awareness going about the importance of the fight against cancer and support for survivors.
-- I had wanted to do a mini-concert at church of about three of my favorite inspirational songs and then a few songs my sister and I rewrote for Relay for Life. But I didn't act to find a time. Part of that is because I didn't want people to feel pressured to give money. Another issue is that it really still is hard to invite people to hear me sing.
-- I e-mailed a letter to the service department of the Ford dealership that had told me nothing was wrong with my car. (A second Ford dealership I took it to confirmed the problems I had mentioned and fixed them under warranty, at no charge to me.) I sent e-mail because I didn't want to talk about it on the phone. I didn't include a phone number. But the corporate service manager called me, AT WORK, on Tuesday. I finally was able to say to the guy that he should respond to my e-mail. And so he did. He said he wants to make it right and regain my trust, but how he proposes to do that is not really clear from his written reply. I'll be following up on that this weekend.
-- I haven't followed up on my eyeglasses. The bifocal line isn't stressing me out anymore, but I'm still not sure everything is OK. But in the scheme of things, this doesn't seem to be a problem right now.
-- I want to put more songs on YouTube. I don't ever expect to be a YouTube sensation, but I do see it as a way to preserve songs that have meant a lot to me, some of which I can't even find recordings of anymore. I'll see how that goes.
I guess the bottom line is that I continue to make small steps of progress. Those steps start with prayer and Bible reading. They include doing what I can, but also learning to set priorities and let go of what's less important on a given day or week. I'm grateful for each step.