Monday, June 29, 2009

Ready For Round 2

I had a job interview this afternoon. This is a job I am qualified for, would be good at, and want to have.

I didn't know what to expect. The invitation to interview came by phone call within days of submitting my application; the interview took place in a city different from where the work will be done; and I was to meet with one person while the job entails working with a variety of people.

I spent the morning flitting from one thing to another and couldn't decide what to wear. I went with a more casual shirt than tailored jacket. Red is never a bad choice. Then I crossed my fingers and decided to give it my best shot.

I met with a kind woman who put me at ease right away. Early on she mentioned there would be a second interview with the team of people who would be working with the person hired. A short while later she asked me if I would be interested in having a second interview...and I said I would be interested if I was asked. A bit later she asked me if she could call my references, and I said I would let them know they might receive a phone call. Minutes later she asked me to have a second interview and confirmed my email address.

Now I don't know if I wasn't picking up on the cues or if the cues were not clear. It has been so long since I've had a successful interview that I didn't know that things were going well.

I know that other applicants will be asked to have second interviews.

I need to polish answers to questions about my experience and goals.

I will get a second chance to impress the people who interview me.

I am ready for Round 2.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peace Lily

In the fall of 2004 my daughter moved into an apartment located on the north side of the building, which meant no direct sunlight. She wanted a plant for her bedroom. After I read the tags on all the houseplants at the local nursery, I settled on a peace lily. It was blooming at the time. It didn't bloom again until now ~

My research tells me that peace lily plants bloom when they want, and they can go dormant for long periods of time. I can identify with that.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


There is a series of four small cards, framed, on a wall in my bedroom. Each one has a simple black and white graphic design and a phrase underneath. With the new room arrangement I see these cards the first thing each morning. The first card reads "To simplify we have to say no." For ten years I have thought that meant saying no to others who ask me to do things.

This week I realized that it means saying no to myself, too.

No to old patterns.

No to the same old stories.

No to who I thought others wanted me to be.

No to who I thought I needed to be.

Months ago I wrote on a scrap of paper ~ Who would I be if not me? I always thought I wanted to be someone else, yet here I am. In February I copied the words into my journal. The words were clear but the meaning was not.

Who else could I be? That has been the question on my mind.

Who am I if I am not the jobs I do or the roles I play or the expectations I satisfy? I have been dancing around all that, questioning how to let go and wondering who I would be if I did.

Who am I if I am not my stories? Who am I if I let go of who I have always been? What will fill the void left behind?

While my mind has been busy trying to answer the questions, my body and spirit have been busy doing the work. Aches and pains that lead to insights and change. Dreams and connections that lead to answers and more clues. The pieces are coming together.

When everything else is stripped away, it is the essence of who I am that remains. Without all the extra bits, and sometimes without so much as a thought in my head, I have spent time alone with myself. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to talk to. Just me.

Despite my best efforts to create another identity, I am still me. This is the simplified version, without the bells and whistles, minus the filters and censors. I am learning to meet the "what ifs" at the door to bar their entrance. I am eliminating "worry" from my list of things to do and "should" from my vocabulary. It's time to find new things to carry.

Today, for the first time, I feel that joy will be part of this journey. It's not that I gave up on finding joy, it's that I didn't know where to look. Joy has been buried under all the other stuff. The paring down and clearing out has uncovered the essentials.

Three more words came to me this week. Honesty. Surrender. Simplicity. I will add those to the list of what I am taking with me as the journey continues.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spring's Last Day

Saturday brought a break in the rainstorms we have been enduring for days. Ken and I took advantage of the comparatively dry spell to run some errands.

We stopped at the farmers' market on our way to the recycling barn. Then it was off to the bottle return with $8.90 worth of bottles and cans. The next stop was the grocery store, with a stop after that at Starbucks for iced coffee and a slice of lemon loaf. On the way home we bought steaks at a meat market that comes highly recommended by friends.

As we headed toward home I remembered that we had been invited to see an octagon-shaped home under construction a few miles from our house. The builder/owner had toured our house while it was being built and was anxious for us to see what he was working on.

The house is amazing ~ three floors of living space with windows on every side that look out over nine acres of gardens and woodland. The rooms are open and spacious. The planned color schemes are colorful and bright. The house has been five years in the making and reflects the creativity and talent of the owners.

Once home, Ken and I unpacked the car before it started to rain again.

And I decided that our house was boring....The shapes and colors seemed so plain after our tour of the octagon house.

It was time for a change, and the easiest thing to change is the furniture arrangement. So Ken and I got to work rearranging our bedroom. We moved the bed and dresser to opposite walls, which positioned the bed so it faces south. It was surprisingly easy and resulted in better reception on the clock radio, more floor space, and a window next to Ken's side of the bed. We were pleased with the results.

I slept great Saturday night. I don't know if it was the day's activities, or the furniture rearranging, or the beer with dinner.

Whatever it was, it worked for me...and for Ken, who was relieved that I didn't start painting the ceilings blue.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Smell The Flowers

I wish you could smell the peonies in this bouquet~

I helped plan and prepare for a small fund-raising event Friday evening. I took red carnations to join with blue iris and white peonies for a bouquet.
How did I not know about the fabulous scent of peonies?
All evening I would take a deep breath every time I passed the table with the vase of flowers. I was reminded of the softer scent of lilies of the valley, a special favorite because it was the scent of the first cologne I owned as a girl.
At the end of the event, I was given the flowers to take home. I put the bouquet in a red vase and sat it on the counter in the middle of the kitchen where I catch a whiff every time I enter the room. Breeeeeathe in...ahhhhh. Beautiful.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Background Noise

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain tapping on the windows. The house was quiet. I could hear the occasional car on the road.

I listened closely for other background noise.

Then I noticed my inner voice, which is getting louder with each passing day. With each deep breath at the start of my day I express gratitude and think about what is possible. I am learning to deny the "what ifs" a place to light as I send them on their way.

Background noise. I can choose what to hear and what to ignore.

Inner voice. I can choose the tone and topic of conversation.

The house is quiet more often these days. With the switch to digital we have lost all but two channels, so regular television viewing is on hold for now. In the past I often used the tv for background noise, morning talk shows for a buzz of distant activity and evening programming as a way to mark time. We are more intentional about what we watch for DVDs or on the computer. The radio and stereo are enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

Now the sounds I hear in the morning are more about what happens in real time. Some days it seems odd. Other days it is a welcome change.

Each morning I have a new chance to set the tone for the day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gettin' Done

I learned when I moved to Maine that there were different ways to put words together. My favorite Maine phrase is "right out straight." It means to be really busy. A close second is "gettin' done," which means to resign, or to be fired or laid off.

I am gettin' done at the 50-Something Moms blog.

It's my choice, and I am parting on good terms. My priorities for my writing have changed, and it's time for me to refocus where I put my energy. My posts there took time to write and have a different voice because they were written for a different audience. [If you're curious, I've added a link on the side to my posts on that site.]

I want to spend more time writing here and visiting the blogs of women I've come to know and enjoy. It takes time to keep up with what others are writing, think about what they've said, and frame comments that add to the conversation.

It's also time for me to officially acknowledge that "mom" is no longer my #1 role. I am a lot of things and 50-something mom has moved down on the list.

There are different ways to put words together. I am 50 something, and I am a mom, but those two words put together are no longer the first way I define myself.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My Cat Was In The Doghouse

Last evening Ken grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. As usual, Leo went outside too, to stay on the porch or under the deck. However, this time, Leo took off for parts unknown, in just seconds. He was not anywhere around the house. He was not on the rock wall or down the driveway. This was the first time Leo has taken off on Ken, who headed off to look for him while I called for him from the porch. Then, from a stand of trees just off the deck, Leo sauntered toward the house, as if to say, "What? Are you looking for me?" I hollered that I had him and Ken headed back to the house, where he gently picked up the cat and put him in the garage for the night. Leo knew he was in trouble ~ we heard not a sound all night and he did not stir in the morning until he heard me moving around.

In an attempt to encourage good behavior, this morning I told Leo he could go out with me to hang up laundry. We walked around back together. Then we walked around the house, with him following me every time I said, "Come on." Once back to the deck we climbed the stairs together. Leo decided he needed a drink ~

a moment's rest on the deck ~

and a nap... because following the rules is exhausting ~

Monday, June 15, 2009

Another Rainy Monday

It's another rainy day. It was hard to get out of bed this morning. Funny, the lure of laundry and the need to vacuum did not entice me to get moving. Then I remembered the oatmeal bread. The thought of a slice of toast and a fresh cup of coffee did the trick.

I may need to bake more bread.

For I will need sustenance as I retool, the perfect word for my new mission ~ to reorganize to meet new or different needs or conditions.

I learned after last week's election that the write-in campaign was directed specifically at me. We thought it was about the new land use ordinance, which passed with a healthy majority at town meeting. No, it turns out that it was a campaign against me, by name, in my bid for a seat on the select board.


1) I have not lived here all my life.

Well, I moved here as soon as I could.

2) I am a Democrat.

Well, I was born that way.

I guess it's a good thing that this information about me is out in the open. Not that the whole town doesn't know which house I live in, or that it's not obvious from the stickers on my car which way my politics lean.

It has been an important lesson for me because while I thought I was being civic-minded and open to other opinions, some people made up their minds about me before they even met me. They didn't like what they thought they knew about me.

I often worry what people think about me, and this certainly has been an obstacle in my path. There are some things I can't keep making detours around if I want to go forward.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

It rained all last night and all day today. It has been a long, disappointing week. Today I needed comfort food, so I made a loaf of oatmeal bread. I am going to share the recipe because it's my favorite bread recipe from one of my favorite people.
Marie's Oatmeal Bread
Makes two loaves of bread. Recipe can be halved.
3 Tbsp. shortening
1 cup oats
2 tsp. salt (I never use this much)
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 tsp. soda
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
7 - 8 cups flour

Put shortening, oats, and salt in a bowl. Mix molasses, soda, and 1/2 cup boiling water; add to bowl with 1 1/2 cups boiling water. When cool, add warm water that has had yeast added. Mix in flour. Knead 8 - 10 minutes. Rest on counter 10 minutes. Shape into loaves and turn into lightly greased bread pans. Rise once in pans until over the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shirley Valentine

Shirley Valentine is one of my favorite movies. It had been awhile since we'd seen it, so Ken and I watched it last night.

Filmed in 1989, it stars Pauline Collins, a British actress. I talked to a friend today who is a movie buff, and she had never heard of Shirley Valentine. I encouraged her to get to know this classic romantic comedy.

Ken and I saw this movie when it first came out on video tape, and we both enjoyed it immensely. We rented it more than once and then bought a used VHS version. Our VCR isn't hooked up, so this time I got the DVD from Netflix.

Every time I watch it I see something new, pick up different details.

I won't give away the story because I encourage anyone who hasn't seen it to watch it. If you have seen it, I recommend you watch it again.

As the opening credits rolled last night, Ken said, "I don't remember these drawings." Picture after picture of what Shirley does all day fills the screen while a song is sung in the background. I paid close attention to the words this time and the last line made me catch my breath: I'd like a chance to be the girl I used to be. I don't remember that the opening of the movie made such an impression on me.

I also didn't remember that Shirley's children had recently moved out of the house. In my mind the emphasis of the movie was on her marriage. Shirley and Joe have been married more than twenty years, and routine has become the order of the day.

Through flashbacks we see glimpses of Shirley's earlier life. Then we catch moments in her current life as her story unfolds.

Shirley Valentine's life has changed. She remembers who she used to be, and she wonders who she has become.

I had not watched the movie from the perspective of a woman with grown children. Before, I didn't pick up on the intensity of Shirley's search for who she is now. Last night I watched closely. I was looking for clues.

When I watched the movie this time, her journey took on a whole new meaning for me.

I saw how afraid she was. I understood the enormity of the risk she took. I recognized her courage.

I think the reward made it all worthwhile.

Shirley Valentine is a fictional character, and the movie makes us laugh.

All day I have been thinking about my inner Shirley Valentine and what kind of girl she'd be if she had the chance. No answers yet, but it's fun to think about.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

And The Day After That

In the past year I have not found a job, started a business, or gotten elected to public office.

During the same twelve months my children have made it clear that they can function quite well without my help, thank you very much.

The one place I have been successful is here, in this space. Somehow, someway I have been able to share who I am with my words and photos.

You, my readers, know me as well as my family...and better than most people who know me in person.

The phone calls I have received in the past two days have been well intentioned and kind. The person calling first tells me what I good job I did, even though I lost the election. Then the individual proceeds to tell me all the other people they know who have lost a first election, or that they know how it feels, or what training/experience/public service I could complete to be better prepared the next time.

What they don't know is why I put my name on the ballot in the first place or why I wouldn't want to do it again.

It is here that I am reassured that there are people who know and understand me.

For that, I am grateful.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Morning After The Election

The tally as of 9:15 last night was 232 votes for me and 281 votes for the write-in.

I needed 50 more votes to win.

Thank you for your good thoughts and best wishes. I am sure they are what sustained me through 8 hours of standing yesterday. The warden, who oversees the polling site, allowed me to stand under an overhang just outside the door. It was good to be under cover because it was 50 degrees and rainy all day. I wore a brimmed hat, trench coat, and winter clogs. Mid-afternoon I added a sweater.

Late-morning I had tea and toast with my friend in town, and later I came home for soup and a cup of coffee. At dinnertime Ken brought me coffee and animal crackers. Other than that I was on my feet greeting people and telling them my name.

I probably said hello to most of the people who voted against me.

I also met people whose names I have been hearing for two years. I shook hands with people who helped with my campaign, people who told me they voted for me, people who thanked me, and people who wished me luck.

I didn't get a chance to talk to the person who started this ball rolling when he neglected to tell anyone he wasn't running again. He walked by me twice, once on his way in and then on his way out, with his back to me pulling the old "look over there" trick. That was just rude.

I met a well-known builder in town who told me he toured my house when it was being built. He said the guy did a good job. He's currently building a house of similar materials and invited me to stop by to see it.

At the beginning of the day the warden made sure I knew the rules about what I could say to people. He checked on me throughout the day. At 7:00 last evening he told me I could stand inside the small entryway where it was warmer because I "had been a good sport all day." Gee, thanks.

I will not run for select board again. For a long time, possibly many years, I will known as the "woman who lost to a write-in candidate."

In addition to that there are two difficult things to accept about this experience:

We did the best we could with the information, time, and resources that we had. We made at least 200 more contacts, phone calls, and emails than people who voted for me. I needed just 50 more votes to win. Participatory democracy works when people participate...

And it works when people use the democratic process. I took out papers, collected signatures, filed papers, and got my name on the ballot. The other side, known bullies in town, worked undercover up until just days ago. When bullies win, they continue to bully.

Our annual town meeting is tonight. My friend in politics said it's going to be a bad one.

I will go to the meeting, although I am not looking forward to it. Ken is working out of town so he won't be home to go. There are four huge issues, and many smaller ones, to discuss and vote on.

I believe in the democratic process so I will go to vote on the issues. People who value this town as I do will need to do the same, or the bullies will win again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Election Day

Today is the day. I think I have a 50-50 chance of winning this election.

I will spend most of the day standing outside the polling place, the old town hall. I can say, "Hello, my name is Sharon." No embellishment. No campaigning.

My presence is also intended to keep the write-in candidate from campaigning, or handing out anything with his name on it within 250 feet of the polling place.

From the beginning I have not taken anything for granted. Up until the end of the last day a person could file papers to get on the ballot I did not assume I would be the only candidate. I was not sure what it meant when the rumors started that there was a write-in candidate, but when I was told it meant we needed to get the word out, then I was ready to do what I could.

When my friend in town learned of my plans for today, she invited me to her house for lunch. That will provide a nice break.

It's going to rain. I better take an umbrella.

When the polls close at 8:00 tonight I will be there to hear the results. Stay tuned....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Covert No More

My campaign for town select person is heating up.

The undercover write-in campaign for the position on the select board is no longer covert. I learned yesterday that they mailed post cards for their unofficial candidate to all republicans in town. And there was a letter to the editor in the local paper publicizing the existence of the write-in campaign.

I had hoped this could stay a nonpartisan campaign. The issue should be who will do the best job for the people of the town, not what party the candidate belongs to.

My friends and I don't have money to put into my campaign. We do have the ability to send emails and make phone calls. On Sunday and Monday a small group of us will make hundreds of phone calls to encourage people to vote for me, the only candidate on the ballot. We will also remind people of the yearly town meeting, where many of the issues important to the town will be discussed and decided. The meeting has been moved to the gym at the elementary school because a crowd is expected, which is a good thing. The more voices the better.

As much as I like to stay in the background, this turn of events has forced me out to meet people and to talk to people beyond a polite greeting. It feels good when people thank me for running for office, for being willing to take a position of leadership.

This experience has helped me realize I am covert no more, in this campaign or in my life. This push onto the public stage, albeit on a local scale, has peeled away my protective cover of anonymity in real life and caused me to consider my online persona as well.

I have thought long and hard about what I have written here in the last year. As I reread posts I was surprised at how honest I was about what was going on in my life. Then I surprised myself when I had the thought that someone could use my words for purposes not in my best interest. That had not occurred to me before. It has certainly been food for thought as I move forward.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Once I decided where I wanted to plant the daisies and violets that I bought at the plant sale, it meant that the tree that was inches from the deck had to go. We can't figure out why the builder left a tree that close to the house, but he did and we have known since the beginning that it had to come down. First we moved the rhododendron, which didn't like living there anyway. Then we moved the lupine to a bigger space where it can spread out. Ken figured out where the tree needed to fall and positioned me on the deck to give it a gentle nudge when it started to go. He started sawing away, I yelled "move your head," and the tree fell just right ~

Looking back at the house you can see that we do not lack for trees ~

I had time Monday to move the pieces out of the way ~
so I could turn over the soil, add mulch and manure, to plant daisies and violets ~
I was so proud of myself! Until I saw this picture and realized how desolate my little plot of ground really looks. Then I read Joanne's post about her zinnias from seed. My plants will grow with water, sunshine, and tending. Patience, dear gardener, patience....