Thursday, December 16, 2010

Snow and lights

Today...a memory.

When I was 16 I left school (the typical age in England at that time) and began to work my first full-time job. It was with Home and Overseas Insurance, a division of the Eagle Star Insurance Company. They provided travel insurance for dozens, probably hundreds, of travel agencies throughout the UK. For each agency, a document of coverage had to be printed, altering the specific names, amounts of coverage, etc. for each agency. Well, it was my illustrious position to proof read each and every document that came from the printers (among other menial filing tasks). Each "cover note" was a legal sized paper filled with minute insurance jargon. The vast bulk of the document remained the same, however, my somewhat cruel and power-hungry supervisor told me I must proof read EVERY WORD of EVERY document. Day after day I compared the newly printed proofs to a master document. I could have recited that policy to the letter. I hated it. I remember one day struggling so hard to focus on this driest of tasks that I began to nod off. I held the paper straight out in front of me, shaking my head, desperately attempting to stay awake and do the job I so wanted to excel in. I failed. I awoke to the snickers of my supervisor and her assistant at the time. I am sure the entire job was given to me purely for their entertainment.

The head honcho was a large man, and not a very kind one. One day I took the day off sick. I'm sure I was ill, but the fact that I despised my job, I am certain, encouraged me to stay home. The following day the boss called me into his office and accused me of taking the day off to be with my boyfriend. I held steadfast my ethics and told him emphatically that it was not true. Later, after he'd been to the pub for lunch and become quite drunk, he called me into his office again. He yelled at me until I finally broke down and cried, at which point he finally softened and released me.

When I told my stepdad, Baz, all of this and explained how thoroughly miserable I was, he told me to quit. Right then and there. He agreed to support me until I could find another job. He was my hero that day! And I did find another job, with Barclays Bank, before my two week notice was up. It was there that I gained many friends, including the best friend in the whole world, and my efforts were recognized.

However, it wasn't all bad. You see, the office I'd worked at was on the famous Regent Street in London. I would catch the train to the Oxford Street station and walk the rest of the way. I would have awesome sausage sandwiches from a tiny shop on Carnaby Street for lunch. And best of all was Christmastime. It would be dark when I left work, and I recall heavy snowfall, amazing patterns of Christmas lights in the streets, and fantastical window displays in the Hamleys Toy Store right across from where I worked. There was barely room to walk on the sidewalks for the masses of people, but it warmed my heart to feel like such a grown up girl in such an exciting place.

Photograph: This is the first photo I've used on my blog that is not my own. I truly wish I had photos from this time and place, but someday I hope to return with my own girls and show them this beautiful country. It is of Regent Street, London, at Christmastime.

Side note: So I apparently picked the wrong time to attempt getting up on schedule. Several sleepless nights disrupted my routine, and now this week I will be working around the clock on Nativity Ballet photos. However, I am starting the second thing on my list anyway - drink two full glasses of water upon rising, before I eat or drink anything else. I've found if I start my day this way, I will drink a lot more water overall.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Brain Cell Reduction

In my early twenties, I used to think I was pretty sharp. I seemed to be able to think quickly, make snap decisions, knew what I thought I wanted. In my early thirties I felt even more confident in my mental processing. Now, in my early forties, I'm beginning to see what aging is all about. It is humility. It is taking what you knew, and proving that nothing on this earth is to be taken for granted, nothing is permanent, and nothing is reliable.

My mind is failing me. I am becoming more forgetful, more cluttered in my thinking and far less decisive. And I find myself giving up. Rather than put myself out there and let people down, including myself, I'd rather just not. If you don't make a promise, you will never break one. My "flying by the seat of my pants" lifestyle is failing me, and I'm seriously afraid that one day I'll forget to don the essential said pants.

I believe the answer is a routine. A set schedule that I follow with the complete self discipline that I apparently lack. But I don't know where to start, or if I even want to. A find myself speaking the words of a depressed woman, "Is there a point?". And yet I only need to look at my kids and know there is a point, for I owe it to them. And of course, I owe it to my God, who has gifted me with breath this day.

So, tomorrow I will follow the theory of The Fly Lady by taking baby steps, and I will ride on the coat tails of determination of my friend Heather. I will begin with one new habit - getting up at 7:30. Each week I will build in one more new habit until I reach a life that is structured, healthy, and productive. And I will report it here for accountability. Either that, or I'll forget, in which case you can assume my brain has indeed turn to mush.

Photograph: Lavender