Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Felt the Earth Move Under My Feet

Though the sky did not tumble down, my heart did start trembling right along with everything else around me.

Halloween party, October 27th, 2012 at Alegria.  With me were a few good friends all decked out in their Halloween finest.  Conversation was lively.  The food was good, the drinks were flowing and music was rockin’.

Suddenly, at a few minutes after eight o'clock, so was everything else.

Several thoughts ran through my head.  Something is in my chair.  My chair is about to collapse.    I’m about to go ass over tea kettle when it does.  I'm having an anxiety attack.  Breathe. 

I kept turning and looking in utter disbelief at the chair that seemed, at that moment, to be alive.  Between the very real thought that I should be filming the poltergeist activity I was sitting on and the gripping fear that I was about to have the granddaddy of all anxiety attacks, I was quite paralysed.  Frozen to the spot while I waited for something catastrophic to ensue.

The rocking eventually stopped.  I'm guessing that it lasted no more than half a minute, but it seemed much longer.  When we realized that we had just experienced an earthquake – an extremely rare event in Houston – we all reached for our phones and iPods and the laptop to confirm our diagnosis.  Within seconds Facebook was all a-Twitter with the news.   People started posting links to earthquake sites and we started following them.

A rather large 7.7 magnitude quake hit Masset on Haida Gwaii and was felt all across the north.  People I know as far away as Quesnel felt the shaking and reported their experiences.  Today, aftershocks continue to shake the earth.  Tsunami warnings have been issued and residents in low-lying areas on the islands are being evacuated. 

The large red dot represents the earthquake that happened last night
near Masset on Haida Gwaii.  
I remember as a kid in Chilliwack feeling earthquakes from time to time.  The world would shake for a few seconds and then stop.  It never seemed to me to be a big deal.  Then again, I was a kid and had no real concept of what an earth quake was capable of.  The last time I felt an earthquake was in 1987.  I was sitting on my sofa reading a book when the mobile home I lived in started to shake.  Still holding the book, I automatically got up and walked down the hall thinking that I had to add fabric softener to my washing.  Then I remembered that I wasn't doing laundry.  Again, it took a few seconds for realization to take hold.  Earthquakes are not a common occurrence in Houston, but it was then that I also learned that we are a mere 10 miles away from a fault line that dissects British Columbia diagonally from south-west to north-east through the bottom corner of the Yukon and into Alaska.  Wow!

The reality is that Earth is in constant flux, an ever-changing and dynamic entity that offers the life it sustains no guarantees.  We are all at the mercy of a constantly evolving world that has no concern for our concerns.  Earth does what Earth does, affecting us without malice or spite as its driving force (unlike us?).  Yet we continue to be offended when disaster strikes. 

Last night as I cleaned up my house and prepared for bed, I kept thinking about how precious and precarious life is.  The brief time we have on this planet is so wasted with greed and hate and revenge and fear.  It’s also delightfully peppered with joy and love and kindness.   I felt a whole new appreciation for the blessings in my life as I crawled into my warm bed in my awesome home with my two adorable cats snuggling in next to me.  I thought about my friends and family, my job, my skills…  and I prayed to be a better person than I am; to care for and use these things lovingly, compassionately and kindly.

This morning with the snow so fresh on the ground and the soft sounds of music filling my home, the coffee tastes just a little better, the cats’ fur is just a little softer and my old couch is just a little more comfy than it was yesterday.   And I sit here pondering the wonder of being alive, of experiencing.  I speculate and deliberate once again on what it all means.  The world didn't just shift last night; I did, too.  To where and to what, I'm not yet sure…

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It Doesn't Get Better Than That

Every now and then I get this weird sensation of… bigness.  I don’t know how else to describe it. 

It’s like my whole life momentarily inflates and I become acutely aware of the things, the people, the responsibility and the obligation in my life.  In essence, it’s like being in a dream state for a few seconds where everything around me feels both centred and expanded at the same time.   I am overwhelmed by what I do, what I am accountable for and who I am answerable to.  It’s like a thrilling and terrifying dream.  Only I’m awake and it doesn’t last very long.

A part of me asks myself, “What have I done? What was I thinking?  What possessed me to take all this on by myself?  Who the hell do I think I am to buy a house, manage a library, own a car, look after pets, renovate rooms, landscape a yard, buy power tools and build shit…?”

Then a little voice answers back, “Who are you not to?”

And the bigness isn’t so big anymore. 

I find myself able to breathe again and I see how absolutely wonderful my life is – with renewed appreciation!  The happiness and contentment I normally feel returns and my only wish is that my bank account would overwhelm me with bigness someday.  It will.

Yesterday, my staff and I met for our once-monthly get-together away from the distractions of regular library life to talk about issues, brainstorm new ideas and generally spend an hour and a half bonding as the team we are.  As I was about to start talking about the first item on our agenda, one of the girls approached me with a card and a gift.  I had no idea what they could be for or why I would be getting them.

I looked at my grinning assistants and was struck by the happiness and pleasure that I saw on their faces.  Even before I opened the card, I was touched by the gesture.  I still had no idea what it was all about.

The card was in honour of Boss’s Day, which was actually held on October 16th.  I happened not to be in the library that day, so the staff decided that the staff meeting would be the perfect substitute. 

The moment of realization was mixed with pride and humble pleasure to be recognized this way by these amazing women, who, quite frankly, make my job so much easier than it could be.  They are the front line workers who deal with the patrons, solve so many problems, ensure that the day-to-day stuff is kept up with, look after programs and displays, keep the library looking neat and tidy among myriad other things that come up quite out of the blue.  All I could think was:  I should be honouring you guys! 

If I do make the world a better place, it's because of the
wonderful people in my life that help me do it.  
And then the bigness happened.  But this time it was not so much overwhelming as it was comforting.  It was affirming.  I knew then, with absolute certainty, that I am in the right place and that everything really is okay. 

The card now sits in pride of place on my book shelf at home.  A reminder that, as big as life can seem sometimes, I am quite capable of handling it. 

I just hope that my wonderful, incredible, talented, creative, amazing staff know how much I have learned from them; how much better they make my life and how great an honour it is to work with each of them. 

So what was the gift that went with the card, you ask?

Triple chocolate cheesecake!  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy

Busy, busy, busy!  That’s my life lately.  It’s been hair straight back for the past couple of months and there’s no end in sight. 

With the fabulous weather we've been having, I should be making more progress on the yard.  Alas, that isn't happening.  I have moved onto – or rather, back to – the spare bedroom.  I am determined to get it done before Yule. 

But home improvement projects are not the only things on my plate.  Work is keeping me hopping, too.  Cross training my assistant is a huge priority.  Then there are the policy and procedure manual updates that are long overdue.  I've developed a needs assessment survey for our patrons so we can further develop a proper strategic work plan and getting that rolled out has taken far longer than it should have. 

I'm not complaining!  It’s great to have plans and projects to focus on.  But it does cut into my knitting and writing time considerably and I sometimes wish I had a clone who could take over now and then so that I could do ALL the things that I want to do as well as the stuff that I have to do. 

Prioritizing is easy.  Unfortunately, it’s highly subjective in the moment and prone to falling prey to my fickle desires.  Sitting at my desk at work, it’s one thing to say this comes before that.  At home, though, primacy is assigned with arbitrary whim in the dominant position.  My saving grace is that once I get started, I tend to see it through.  Mostly.  The real threat to any project is another idea popping into my head, exciting me and challenging me to find a way to make it happen.

My desk is now littered with schematics for a writing desk, a shelving project for the spare room, storage shelves in the basement and shed, a work bench, coffee and end tables, a TV stand and a bed frame.  What I lack is both time and tools to make it all happen.   Oh, and money!  Money can be a factor in where any particular project falls on the priority list.  But it will come when it is needed and so I don’t concern myself with that all too much.

I was a bit bummed out yesterday, though.  After saving up for a new mitre saw, I decided to order it only to discover that it is sold out.  Crap.  So a new circular saw it will be instead.  Bosch.  Construction site blue.  Great ratings.  (But it isn't the pretty green Hitachi 10” mitre saw I've had my heart set on.  Sigh…)  I guess the mitre saw will have to wait a bit. 

So, today, as I sit here with coffee in hand, the plan looks something like this:
  • ·         Second coat of paint on my coffee table legs
  • ·         Sand and prime the walls in the spare room
  • ·         Rake and mulch leaves. 
  • ·         Pick up apples
  • ·         Laundry
  • ·         Clean house
  • ·         Water plants
  • ·         Bake cookies for the awesome guys at KalTire, who changed my tires over for free!  Again! 
  • ·         Make soup

Will it all happen?

Not as long as I'm sitting here in my PJs with the Angry Birds theme music rolling around in my head and beckoning me to try to beat my kid in this week’s tournament, knowing that I won’t, because she is just an Angry Birds wizard.  And I'm so not! 

Okay, this is it.  Time to start knocking things off the old to-do list. 

(Maybe just one more attempt to take the gold crown in Angry Birds…)