Category Archives: being comfortable with who I am

An Arranged Marriage

By Tony W.

The pastor of the church my wife and I attend frequently speaks about the huge difference our perspective can make as we navigate life. For example, make a big mistake at work and you can see it as a valuable lesson that will help you in the future or as a confirmation that you will never be successful. Same mistake, same workplace, same you – the critical difference in your perspective.

This teaching about the importance of perspective combined with an article I read about the statistically higher success rate of arranged marriages led me to an “A-ha!” moment about marriages in general and my marriage specifically.

wedding1If you prayed about finding the right person to marry, wouldn’t you consider when you did find them that the match was arranged by the Ultimate Match-Maker? Especially if it took awhile to find your match and it came about in an unexpected manner? This Match-Maker’s done some impressive work in the past – Adam and Eve, Ruth and Boaz, Joseph and Mary. What if your marriage also was personally arranged by Him?

The article said cultures with predominantly arranged marriages have much lower divorce rates and now research also has established those in arranged marriage are just as likely to report being happy with their spouse as those in “love” marriages. It’s complicated but experts believe husbands and wives have diminished expectations going into an arranged marriage so then are happily surprised when their spouse exceeds those expectations. Conversely in love marriages,  when spouses feel they have found their perfect match, the expectations are much higher and often result in disappointment when incompatibilities emerge.

The Waco Back Story

My wife and I often say how fortunate we were to find each other and how unlikely it was that we both were in Waco, Texas at the same time, working at the same company. It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. When I was first attracted to her and asked her to lunch hoping to get to know her better, she accepted but promptly let me know over Chinese food that she was dating someone and would want to be my “friend.” Over a year went by with us occasionally talking at work or having a meal together, sometimes in a group situation. All along I was visiting churches and praying on a regular basis (it’s what you do in Waco) and I’m sure those prayers sometimes mentioned my future wife by name.

As I got to know her better and did, in fact, become her friend, there always seemed to be a quiet voice inside me saying “she’s the one.” The voice seemed to note each positive quality about her that came to light as we talked.

“Wow, did you hear that? She really would be good for you.”

And then one day, things between us changed. She started to see me differently. Within a few months, I went from being her “friend” to being her fiancé, then being her husband, and

  • moving across country together for her dream job,
  • having a beautiful baby girl,
  • having a wonderful baby boy,
  • moving back to Texas,
  • buying a house together,
  • raising our children and two boys from my first marriage,
  • growing ever closer as we’ve aged, plus
  • still being in love after 22 years.

So while it’s not a big leap of faith for me to think a Higher Power brought us together, I had never considered the idea of our marriage being the purposeful act of the Ultimate Match-Maker. Churches talk about putting God at the center of your marriage, and maybe one of the best ways of doing that is to simply consider your marriage as having been arranged by Him.

Not So Heavenly

If He brought you and your spouse together, wouldn’t it make sense that He is taking an active interest in keeping you together? I’ve come to believe He does. Sure, we have friction and challenges but the Match-Maker never told me my wife would be perfect. He just kept emphasizing all that was good about her and that it might be possible for her to be my wife one day.

When I’m feeling a little neglected or misunderstood, I take those complaints to Him. But because he is all-knowing, there’s no fudging on what I’ve done or not done to further a situation. Before I address a problem, I start by thanking Him for finding my match and acknowledging what a great addition my spouse has been to my life. When I do this, things are sure to get better soon.  Part of the reason this works is that He put into both of our hearts a focus on what we like about each other, not a fairy-tale expectation. “A-ha!”

Yet Another Tree Story for Earth Day

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In 2000, we started looking for our first home. This place was too small, that one was too expensive. Then we found one where the size was good and the price right because the couple was divorcing (it happens). I was sold on it at the curb because of the trees.

If you live in North Texas, you understand the attraction. You seek trees in hot parking lots and sports fields and just about anywhere else really, especially when there’s no breeze. I used to make the kids crisscross the street to the shadier side on their walk home from elementary school.

Two trees on the west side of our front yard provide a canopy of cool as you walk up the curvy sidewalk to the door. The first one you see is the Bradford pear.

This much-maligned ornamental lives 18-25 years because as it matures, the canopy spreads, pulling down limbs as it grows, even to the point of splitting at times. Some people don’t like the way they look so they cut them down. Their growth pattern makes it easy for nature to carve out a tree that IS hard to love.

Part of the issue with our property is that after we moved in, we realized that two other mature trees, not Bradford pears, should be cut down. The one on the west side of the house was dead. The one on the east side of the front of the house seemed to have three trunks and we feared one branch might be splitting and possibly falling onto the neighbor’s house. Nope, another goner.

I’m not just rooting for this Bradford pear’s longevity because now I only have two trees instead of three in the front yard.

No, I’m partial to the pear because it’s full of life —

even though it’s been cracked open by freezing rain,

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neatly pecked by the street woodpecker

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and otherwise disturbed by microbursts.

(I’m sure our neighbors across the way hate the view.)

So my husband carefully prunes those heavy branches. We sweep the flower detritus from the walkway and rake the leaves as the seasons require. And after every storm, we check on the Bradford pear first.

This is our welcome tree: Beautiful in its imperfection and ferociously resilient. I would like to be like that.

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(By the way, the second tree, a native live oak, is doing well, providing shade over the roof and protection from hail. The squirrels love it, too.)

By LK

 

 

How Switching Careers Changed My Life

Leo21Aug2014
In 2008, I was making good money as a network administrator. I received an offer from another company that would have bumped my earnings significantly. I turned it down.

My career wasn’t satisfying like it once was. And more money, I reasoned, wouldn’t make it better. The treadmill of industry certifications, the nights on call, the high-pressure environment and the overall lack of fulfillment had taken their toll.

Money is the motivating factor for most it seems, always going for the next highest paying position on the company ladder or jumping ship to a better paying job somewhere else. And while I’m not completely immune to the power of the almighty dollar, the bitterness and anxiety I felt about my work didn’t improve when I tried to visualize myself down the road, doing the same work, with more responsibility, at a higher salary.

I knew it was time for a change. My brain’s right side was craving attention after being suppressed for such a long time.

The first thing I did was take an acting class, which despite some apprehension in the beginning, allowed my introverted self some relief by inhabiting other peoples’ minds. Then I returned to an interest I had earlier in life: writing. My boss was worried, and he was right to be so.

I put my acting career on hold but kept writing and pursuing other interests including web design and Internet marketing. My wife got a new job in a different city, which gave me the chance for a clean break.

Emboldened by a couple of articles of mine that got published online (one of which paid just over $3), I applied for a part-time job writing for a content website. I was now a professional writer.

Though I was excited and enjoying my part-time job, the transition out of a lucrative line of work wasn’t easy. My father, with genuine concern and the best of intentions, tried to talk me out of it. Imagine the humiliation you might feel if your parents doled out career advice as if you were an adrift 20 year old when you were almost 40.

I did my best to ignore outside advice. I had interests to pursue and time to explore them. I took another part-time job doing search engine optimization (SEO) work and managing pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns for a chiropractic office. Then my wife and I had our first and only child.

A full-time web copywriter and account manager position came along and didn’t work out. Then I started my own web design company with a partner. We had a few clients and a lot of fun doing and learning, but we weren’t establishing a client base quickly enough to make ends meet financially.

Eventually, I landed a content editor job with a large hospitality company — finally achieving financial stability in my new chosen field. It may not be the ideal job, but it’s a good fit. I’m in the business of digital storytelling, which is where I want to be.

Though it happened gradually, when I compare my new life to my old life, things have changed significantly. I do sometimes have regrets about the money I could be making and the status I could be enjoying, but I’m not as agitated now as I was then.

If you define happiness as a moment of pleasure and satisfaction, then put me down for happier too because I have more of those moments now than I used to. My Type-A personality may prevent me from enjoying life as consistently as I would hope, but the time I spend outside of work with my family and friends are moments nearly fully enjoyed, without job-related anxieties, pressures and thoughts occupying my mind.

By Leo K.

career switch makes leo lighter

Gary the garage door repairman

ballroom dancing

Ballroom dancing is doable

You never know what you might find out about a person until you just listen.

This 6-ft tall gentleman wore a long-sleeved shirt and Wrangler jeans. He was more leg than anything and the wrinkles on his face were like grooves. But he still had quite a bit of hair.

Gary came to assess the damage and restore order. He did so expertly, taking the claw of the hammer to force out the pins and replace them, bending the frame to his will. He suggested upgrades but not in a pushy way; he was happy to demonstrate how things would be better in the hot garage.

I invited him to sit after the work was completed. He refused a glass of water because there was a Dr Pepper waiting in the truck. And then he shared his story.

A Marine, Gary was the recipient of not one, but two kidneys. The battle scars he showed me on his arm were fistulas from kidney dialysis. His story was really a story about someone else.

He said something like this:
People who go to dialysis act like they’re going to die. I didn’t. I just acted like it was something I had to do. I got next to people, not so bad that they’d get mad at me. Just so they might cheer up.

One woman, who initially came in using a walker, took note of Gary’s hijinks and commented that he liked to have fun. That idea must have settled well in her mind because sometime later, she came to the center and touched Gary’s shoulder. He noticed right away that she was walking unassisted. She had to come to tell him what she did the night before:

“I went ballroom dancing and it was all because of you.”

I’m very glad that Gary came to fix my garage door.

By LK

Coffee or Tea

Selecting the right hot beverage in the morning (or the afternoon) can be critical. I don’t know anyone who drinks both coffee and tea; there’s usually a preference. (I do know people who don’t drink either but that’s a topic for another time,)

When my coffee-drinking and cigarette-smoking parents said it was OK for me to drink coffee, I didn’t like the taste and the caffeine made me jittery. No kidding; one cup could wreck my day (or night).

Black tea, the most readily available tea at the time, was a better fit. A Lipton tea bag, boiling water from a tea kettle, and a spoonful of sugar became a fixed part of my routine. This natural sweetener was enough to quell any bitterness and I lost the shakes. (Teas typically have less caffeine than coffees.)  I also could function normally and sleep well.

My spouse has seen the tea light and only drinks a cup of coffee if he is driving a long distance and feeling drowsy (aside: Why do they make coffee so hot that it can burn?) Friends and neighbors who come to visit are invited to have a cup of tea or maybe a glass of water. On my mother’s last visit, she packed a jar of Maxwell House decaf. She knows better than to come empty-handed.

Eventually, as the tea market expanded, I tried green, chai, chamomile, and peppermint teas and even a variety to help me sleep. You can find blogs that try to type your personality based on your tea choices; at least one of these is fairly amusing.  If you crave serious tea information, visit this blog, Second Cuppa.

For me, I will continue to sample new flavors but only as teas.

😉

By LK

a moment

I have struggled with my feelings about my gray hair since I was in my mid-20s. The cost of coloring, the mess, the impact on the environment. Especially the way I looked between colorings.

One day I went to my colorist and he refused to apply chemical because not enough of the old color had grown out. After some consultation, we agreed to cut it all off.  Now I was gray with silver highlights.

RealColor

 

Very short hair was something I had always wanted to do but stopped short because of what the people around me wanted.

Taking that simple step has made me feel free. And ‘those people’ have come to accept it. I haven’t used hair color since that day but I have let it grow longer, and could cut it short again on a whim.

realizing it's OK to be gray By LK

Depending on where you are in your journey, this moment may speak to you. Check out the Into the Gloss Blog  or The College Prepster