What Dreams Reveal

This morning I had a dream that reminded me of a pivotal experience in my life. I remembered taking my grandmother to a fashion show produced by one of my sisters, starring about a dozen of our cousins, all of whom had been raised as Muslim girls. My grandmother, as always, was dressed “modestly” as the Muslim woman she had become in her 20s. 

She wore a long skirt and a light-weight veil covering her silver, silky hair.  She favored soft, pastel colors and I marveled at her ability to remain stylish while beholden to a very old-fashioned Islamic tradition.  Out of respect for her, I wore loose-fitted slacks and a conservative blouse  instead of one of my sassy short skirts with bold high heels. I could tell we were in for a fun evening when we arrived, but I had no idea how adventurous the event would be.

We were settled into our seats, enjoying my mother’s humorous moderating of the program, enjoying the little kids sporting everything from traditional tiny tuxes and gowns to trendy baggy jeans and jerseys. My grandmother was all smiles, thoroughly delighted –  until the lights changed and the next scene unfolded.

In the blink of an eye, a parade of young women who had been raised with strict religious confines strutted out half naked in mini skirts and tank tops or swim suits and spiked heels. They held a handful of leashes attached to young men crawling on all fours in front of them. They pulled back on the leashes, struck a pose, and flashed their sass, yanked on the leashes. The young men in collars clawed at them, rolled over for them, made the crowd laugh for them and my grandmother was beside herself.

“What in the world?!?!?!”  She spoke only loud enough for me, sitting next to her, to hear. “Astafullah!” she said. that was the Muslim equivalent of “God forbid!” I was tickled through and through. 

“It’s a new day, GrandWillie. Women are owning their sexuality,” I explained. “Actually, it’s not that new. We’ve been celebrating sex since the 70s.”  I enjoyed my younger sisters’ vision and the young men’s willingness to play along. 

At the reception after the fashion show we enjoyed light fare and much laughter with the crowd. Back in my car, GrandWillie returned to our conversation.  She explained that she likes to support all her grandchildren, but she did not need to see what she had seen and she certainly did not condone it.

“These are the ending days for sure,” GrandWillie said. “I can’t stand to see young women giving yourselves away. You know we had a saying ‘why buy the cow if you can get the milk free’.” 

“Oh, GrandWillie I always hated that saying,” I said. “No disrespect. But that implies that I am a piece of meat a man can buy and milk to death or slaughter and eat. I am not a piece of meat.”

“Why would any woman give herself to a man who won’t even make a commitment? I just don’t understand it.”

“It’s not so much giving ourself away. It’s a shared experience,” I said. “We like sex. No disrespect.” 

My grandmother had given birth to eight children because birth control and abortion were illegal when she was a young woman. Sex had been a necessary evil to be endured by those lucky enough to get married. She had proudly told me that she had never been with any man other than my grandfather. I had respectfully declined to let on that I knew my grandfather had been with other women before they were married and during their 40-plus years together. (He was killed by a drunk driver.) Her children had enjoyed the sexual revolution of the 70s, and her grandchildren were celebrating it in new ways.  What would she do if she found out that women were now enjoying sex without a partner at all? She had never been to an adult toy store. Our orientations had been different. The landscapes of our lives were not the same. 

While focusing on the road ahead, taking my grandmother home, I could see out the corner of my eye that she was shaking her head in disagreement about our take on women’s sexuality. I did not tell her that she had been spared a fashion show scene dramatizing lesbian relationships. That would have been waaaay too much for her. The younger women in the family were pushing the envelope but maintained some boundaries in deference to our elders. I appreciated GrandWillie’s wisdom, but did not agree with it all. Conventional wisdom defied and denied too much of what I instinctively knew to be true. 

“Men have to get a license to fish, to hunt, to do whatever else they want to do. Make them get a license to be with you,” my grandmother insisted. 

“I am not a sport or a game,” I argued. “I am not a piece of meat, or a piece of property you can have license to. License to do what? Do you realize how many men think their marriage license gives them the right to sex anytime they want?”  

“You young women think too much,” she said. “The Holy Scriptures lays it all out for us. Ain’t nothing new under the sun. Human nature is human nature, and God knows human nature. When we try to change it or figure it out on our own, nothing good can come from it.”

I agreed with her that there are many benefits to marriage, that stating intentions up front and committing to work together toward agreed-upon goals could be more satisfying than a series of one-night stands. 
 

“I believe in marriage,” I told her. “But I need a wife.” 

“You need a what?” She seemed exasperated with me. 

“I need a wife. Somebody who’s got my back, who will support my dreams. I need a man who will pick up my dry cleaning if I’m working late, or have dinner on the table for me to take the edge off a long day.” 

“These are certainly the ending days,” she said. “You all, as you like to say, got it twisted’.” 

 I smiled, and respectfully disagreed. “I think we’re finally straightening things out,” I said as we reached her home where we would part ways. “GrandWillie, it’s all working out for the best,” I added. “You’ll see.” 

She cracked a smile as she turned to go up the stairs.  “I think I have seen enough.” 

My dearly departed grandmother is among the stars now. Thinking about fun times we shared brings a smile to my face, streaks of sunlight through the clouds of grief. The dream I had reflected sexual domination, but it prompted waking memories that confirmed a reversal of fortune.  We re-create, re-cast, re-fashion,and  re-model our outlook. We have, we can, we must.

Shop-Lifting

In the current economy I have learned to appreciate an activity akin to window shopping. I call it shop-lifting. I go to shop but lift my consciousness and character awareness more than my wallet. For instance, the other day I was standing in line at the Card Factory Store when I overheard a customer behind me explain the items spilling out of her hands.

“My husband’s 50th birthday is coming up. So, we decided to write 50 things we love about him and put them in a decorative vase he can keep on his desk at work,” she said. 

Now that’s a gift! I thought. Cheaper than the latest iPad or the next high-tech communication gadget, but a communication of something so much greater – love. 

It reminded me of when I was on a  shopping fast in November, following the advice of financial fitness guru Michelle Singletary. She suggested a 30-day no-spending fast. She also suggested that you not even go into stores, tempting yourself. I did not want to over-deprive myself. So, I went into stores with the idea that I could only lift ideas and enjoy the experience of exchange by watching others engage in it. 

Once, while in a dollar store browsing near the check-out, I overheard the cashier’s conversation with a customer and became intrigued. 

“Your hair is beautiful. Were you always blond?” she asked. 

“Yeah. Since I was a little boy,” he said. 

For starters, I never knew people’s hair changed colors except for turning gray. So, without spending a dime, I learned something. But there was more as I listened. 

“My husband’s hair used to be dark like his,” she said, pointing to another customer. “But as he got older it turned white. It’s beautiful.”

It sounded like she enjoyed growing old with her husband.  I found that encouraging for my own marriage. Encouragement – free. 

I moved to the back of the store so I could whip out my pocketbook journal and make a note. But while I was back there I noticed something else. A family – parents and kids – talking about what else they should put in their “gift baskets.”  Curiosity got the best of me and I drew on my old reporting skills to find out more. 

They belonged to the Chesapeake Christian Fellowship Church, which sends Christmas gift baskets to “third world” countries. Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, is in charge. The mother, father, and their two sons, each carried a box filling it with toys, candy, and other treats.

“We have a lot, so why not give to somebody else?” the mother told me when I asked about their motivation. 

Without spending a dime, I was inspired, and reassured that we’re not all a bunch of self-seeking, greedy, can’t-get-enough, no good people in America.

Shopping without spending allowed me to collect encouragement and inspiration that lifted my spirits higher than a new pair of heels would have lifted my frame. 

Another day during the 30-day spending fast, I went into a gift shop, browsing for ideas of gifts I might buy in the future. Instead, I got a great idea of a gift book I can create. I rushed home to write down my idea and more inspiration flowed. I followed up with a little research about how to market it. Made a list of publishers to pitch it to. 

I had loved shopping, justified it as retail therapy for so long, I am pleasantly surprised and thoroughly delighted these days to experience shopping of another sort.  I spend less money these days, enjoying so many other aspects of the shopping experience. I chat with the store workers now. I laugh at their jokes. I enjoy samples at food stores and have outgrown my shyness about asking for a sample before I buy something. Guilt. 

Yesterday I was browsing Whole Food, which I love because of the abundance of samples at the ready. After a few samples of fresh squeezed orange juice, fresh squeezed lemonade, chocolate-cherry coffee, chocolate chip cookies, and toffee-covered pretzels, I really was hungry for a purchase. I bought only a $3 jar of tomato sauce and left without feeling guilty. The guilt I may have felt for enjoying so many samples and spending so little cash was lifted as I realized the store did what it intended to do, which was provide a customer with an experience that would ensure my return again and again, and I did what I intended to do, which was – spend more wisely. 

In the interest of full disclosure, when I was a kid, I was once caught shoplifting, in the criminal sense. I had everything basic I needed at home, food, water, shelter, family support. But I envied my friends who had designer clothes and Tinker Bell lotion and lip gloss. I stole Tinker Bell lip gloss and lotion and got caught. Thankfully, my mother did not find out until I told her years later.

Shop-lifting this new way is alleviating my envy of others who still seem to have more – more job security, a bigger house, more financial wealth, etc. I am realizing that I have so much more than I realized. My mother tried to tell me this, of course. She insisted that I shop in my own closet. Now I, do that, too. I realize that I have all the pieces and colors to create my favorite look for any occasion.   I also realize that I have things to give away. I have more than I “need.”

What are you shopping for? Beyond the basics, what are you really hungry for?

What’s in Your Hand?

What’s In Your Hand?

Yesterday, out the blue, Adam Clayton Powell’s famous, “What’s in Your Hand Speech” came to mind. I remembered happening upon his speech about 15 years ago, during one of what would become a series of my mini-retirements (more on that another time).

I had been in line at a library when I noticed a documentary on him on a shelf nearby. I grabbed it, and when I watched it, I was so blown away by the clip of his speech at the end, I rewound it over and over again. I jotted it down verbatim in my diary and memorized it. I loved it so much. It was a call to political action, an attempt to jolt people from apathy.  But I imagined it could be an inspiring call to personal and professional action, as well as a call to celebrate the gifts that we have.

I imagined using it in a speech I would give someday, encouraging beauticians to realize they held in their hands the gift of making others beautiful, calling teachers to realize they have the gift of guidance and instruction. Everybody’s got a gift and often we don’t fully appreciate what we are giving right where we are.

I once envied a friend who made six figures as a personnel specialist. He lamented that he had no special gift. Money isn’t everything, he said. He prayed for God to show him his special gift.

“Are you kidding?”I asked. “Not only are you making money, adding value to your own life and by extension the lives of others you give presents to, causes you donate cash to, your church, which is sustained partly by your tithes and offerings. You have the gift of modeling a level of success that is possible. Plus, in your job you help match people with the right opportunities. That’s a gift!”

Of course, he was thinking of an artistic gift. He admired my gift of – and passion for – writing. He said he envied that I could be content in a corner anywhere with a pen and a notepad or journal. Of course, I did not see what I had as a gift because as much as I love journaling – and now blogging – there’s no money attached to it – yet.  

It can’t be a gift without monetary value, right? Never mind the peace of mind, and what we now call “psychological income.” That doesn’t pay the mortgage, right? At some point it will.  (I have complied trunks full of journals, that I am now considering a gold mine of material for novels.) That’s a gift to be shared, right? 

This morning I tuned in to hear Steve Harvey’s morning testimony, something I’ve enjoyed off and on for at least two years now. I like “witnessing” him share his love of God with his audience of millions. At the end of his 12-minutes of testifying this morning, he talked about gifts God gives us all.

“He gives a lot of people a gift. Some are not using it, now they’re life ain’t what they want. But, guess what? You made that call,” he said in all his sassiness. “You know how to cook, but you won’t bake a pie. You’re funny, but you ain’t on stage. You can sing, but you ain’t got a record deal. You can counsel, but you ain’t took up social work. What you want God to do? You the best painter, but you ain’t got your art displayed no where…That’s crazy.”

I considered the coincidence of recalling Adam Clayton Powell’s speech on using God’s gifts last night and hearing a similar message from Steve Harvey this morning an interesting enough coincidence to follow it somewhere. I googled Adam Clayton Powell and found a clip of him giving his speech on YouTube. I listened and not only felt inspired all over again, I felt compelled to share the inspiration.

Here is the text of Powell’s famous “What’s In Your Hand” speech:  

“As far as I know, here, you’re in trouble. It says you’ve got about 30 percent unemployment. That’s why I’m working hard to get this surplus food here. Some of you say to me, ‘well, I’m not like you. I’m not a congressman. I haven’t got education. I haven’t got work. But you’re a human being. And you know what you’ve got? You’ve got in your hand the power to use your vote and to use even those few cents you get from welfare to spend them only where you want to spend them.” The crowd applauded and cheered. “A young slave boy stood one day before the greatest ruler of his day. And God said to Moses, what’s in your hand? And Moses said, ‘I’ve got this stick, that’s all.’ He said, well let me use what’s in your hand. And God used that slave boy with a stick in his hand to divide the Red Seas, march through a wilderness, bring water out of rocks, manna from heaven, and bring his people to freedom land. What’s in your hand?”

“What’s in your hand! George Washington Carver, who was so frail that he was traded for a broken down horse as a slave boy, and George Washington Carver sitting in the science laboratory at Tuskegee told me, he said, ‘Dr. Powell, I just go out into the fields each morning at 5 o’clock, and I let God guide me, and I bring back these little things and I work them over in my laboratory.’ And that man did more to revolutionize the agricultural science of peanuts, and of cotton, and of sweet potatoes than any other human being in the field of agricultural science.”

“What’s in your hand? Just let God use you that’s all. What’s in your hand!!!!!!!” he boomed. “I’ve got a string in my hand, that’s all, and I’m flying a kite, and way up in the heaven’s lightening strikes, and I Benjamin Franklin, discover for the first time, the possibilities of electricity – with a string in my hand. What’s in your hand!!!!! Little hunch-back sitting in a Roman jail. ‘I haven’t got anything in my hand but an old quill pen. But God says, ‘Write what I tell ya to write!’ And Paul wrote, I have run my race with patience. I’ve finished my course. I’ve kept the faith. What’s in your hand little boy!!!!” ‘All I’ve got is this slingshot, but the enemies of my people are great and big and more numerous than we are.’ Well Little David, go down to the brook and pick out a few stones and bring them back, and put them in the sling shot and close your eyes if you want to and let them go. And David killed the enemies of his people, and his people became free, just letting God guide a stone in his hand. And a few years pass, and David is King. And God says, ‘What’s in your hand?’ And David says I’ve got a harp. And God said then play on your harp. And he played, ‘The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. Yea thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. What’s in your hand!!!!!”

Now here was my favorite part.

“A man hanging on a cross with two nails in his hands said ‘Father I stretch my hands to thee. No other help I know. If Thou withdraw thy hand from me, whither will I go. And that man with two nails in his hands split history in half, B.C. and A.D. What’s in your hand tonight? You’ve got God in your hand, and with God in your hand, He’ll let you win because he’s on your side, and one with God is always in the majority. So, walk with Him and talk with Him. And work with Him and fight with Him. And with God’s hand in your hand, the victory will be accomplished, sooner than you dreamed, sooner than you hoped for, sooner than you prayed for, sooner than you imagined. Good night and God bless.”

 Click here for link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuZjcd7t-sE&feature=related

I Believe I Can Fly – Just Not Today

I was power-walking again for exercise a couple of days ago when I decided to exercise my imagination for inspiration. 

Bundled in a red ski coat, sweat pants and tennis shoes I walked through our neighborhood where Cherry blossoms are beginning to bloom even as some trees remain naked. Purple, pink, and yellow flowers in my neighbors’ front yards already are promising spring. I noticed birds flying high or perched on trees.

“Self?” I said in my mind. “The next bird you see is you. Watch its patterns.  Note what it does. Imagine the bird is a reflection of you. The very next bird that catches your attention.”

“O.k.,” I agreed.

“You can’t look for a bird. The trick is the bird has to catch your attention.”

“Ok!” I said, emphatically.

It seemed odd that I was noticing birds until I started the internal conversation. Now I was only hearing them, none were flying in my view.

“O.k. I hear them. I don’t see them, but I know they’re all around me because I hear them,” I said to myself.

“Then just listen and realize the birds are singing even on this cold and dreary day. They’re not waiting for spring to break. Can you sing in the rain like Gene Kelly suggested?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I absolutely can. Is this little exercise over? I was just supposed to be reminded to sing in the rain?”

“No. Keep your eyes open. The next bird you see is a reflection of you.”

I noticed a tiny bird bouncing around on the ground. It was a red-breasted bird.

“Oh no!” I thought. “Get up from there! Get up! You’ve got wings. You can fly!”

The bird bounced around on the evergreen grass in an opening beyond a clump of trees.

“Fly birdie! Fly!” I thought, standing still to observe.

“There’s your bird. Now what do you think?” my invisible friend asked.

“Well, even though it is small and on the ground instead of in the air, it caught my attention. Maybe I will catch the attention of somebody – a manager  who will hire me or a publisher who will sign my book for publication and a movie.”  

A chilly wind whipped at my legs. I noticed a large bird flying above my little bird, but I remained focused on the small bird, since this was my assignment.

“O.k., So once I get their attention, I’ll keep it even though they may have bigger birds in sight. They may have high-profile authors on board, but I will keep their attention.”

Just then a flock of birds swooped down near my little bird, but quickly took flight again.

“Oh, those are all the self-published authors, touching ground (working their day jobs), but immediately taking flight again (going home to work on their dream job of self-publishing books).” They will not keep the people assigned to work with me from focusing on me and our project.”

Streaks of sunlight broke through the clouds. A smile rose from my heart.

“Little birdie, fly. Are you content to stay on the ground? You can’t be. We were made to fly,” I thought, hoping the bird could hear my thoughts.

I was reminded of a time when I was about 14-years-old and one of my favorite uncles, my greatest inspiration at the time, handed me a copy of the then-popular book, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”  It was a very small hard-cover book, only 150 pages or so. I accepted the book as if he was handing me money.

“You are Jonathan,” he said. “We both are. This is our story.”

“What’s it about?” I asked.

“Don’t ask me. Read it for yourself,” he said. 

I read it quickly. It was the story of a bird that dared to leave the flock of birds pecking around on the sea shores for leftover scraps of food. The bird, named Jonathan, decided that since he had wings he must have been made to fly, not waddle around on the sand for crumbs. He decided he would fly simply for the joy of flying. He would fly simply because he could.

The other birds, of course, laughed at him and swore he would starve if he did not work as they did. But Jonathan’s hunger was more than belly-deep. He hungered to do what he felt he was designed to do.

Jonathan flew high until he met other birds of like-mind. They taught him new flying skills and encouraged him to fly even higher. He did, and at each new level, he met other teachers who taught him the miraculous things they could do with their wings.

This story came back to me as I watched my little bird bouncing around on the ground. I also remembered a conversation I had with my recently departed aunt, who also had been my best friend.

“Stop worrying about some little job,” she would say. “You’re an eagle. God made you to fly high above the rest of us. Stop pecking around here like some little chicken!”

She had good-gubment job security, so she wasn’t exactly in the position to convince me I did not need the same. But her encouragement came back to me as I watched my little bird a couple of days ago.

“Fly little bird. Fly,” I mentally projected as I watched her from a distance.

I decided to stand there and watch to see how long it would take her to get off the ground, but I became impatient, and went home. Later that day I considered the bird may have been telling me it is ok to be content on the ground for a while. Even birds must rest, right?

The 23rd Psalm came to mind. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me to the paths of righteousness for His namesake.”

I considered that my little bird had been simply lying down in green pastures for a moment.  Of course she took flight again at some point. Birds fly because they can and they must. They know they can fly.  I know I can, too – when the time comes. Until then, I am becoming more grounded in many ways. Grounded, as in: being in touch with reality; gaining a secure feeling  my personal feelings.

Yes, I can, and will, fly again. Just not right this very moment – and that’s o.k.

The Difference Between a Writer and Author

What’s the difference between a writer and an author? 

I was delighted to consider myself a writer, having published hundreds of newspaper articles and two books with major publishers. Then I heard Zane’s opinion that the difference between a writer and an author is the personality quotient. An author has to have a marketable personality, she says. Now, coming from a woman who publishes books and has sold her own books to the tune of NY Times best seller status, that struck me as instructive.

There is a reason why so many great, well-researched, well-written books never even get published. A reason why many great books never make best seller lists. Half of the job is selling the book and, yes, it takes personality, charm, and a whole lot of other things to sell the book. I have picked up books from bargain bins, books I never saw reviewed, books I had not heard of on the internet, books that were great because they offered some novel perspective I had not considered, offered something that solved an internal conflict for me. 

Now I’m inclined to get a good old fashioned dictionary and compare the definitions of writer and author. Thinking of the definitions, I am considering that a writer is one who writes and an author is one who has gained a level of authority on a subject or an experience. In fact, speaking of authority, just this morning I was thinking about how important it is for me as a writer to seek more authority of my characters and their internal conflicts and high hopes. That would mean more research and interviews.

It occurred to me this morning that in my first memoir, when I wrote about losing my beloved granddad, and the impact that had on me, I had not explored the emotional impact it had on my grandmother, who had lost her husband of 20-plus years. That came to mind this morning as I considered how my current experience of loss and grief will help inform my writing in the future. As a writer, I wrote the basic details of the experience: who died, when, why, how it made me feel. As an author I can establish more authority of that experience by exploring – and sharing – the emotional and psychological ramifications of the experience. 

What do you think? 

Pleasantly Surprised

100   Points of Gratitude – Job

1)    A steady paycheck

2)    Health and dental insurance

3)    A clean building to work in

4)    Workable bathrooms

5)    Dining facilities and vending machines on premise

6)    Free parking

7)    Heat in the winter and cool air in the summer

8)    Credits toward my social security in the future

9)    Working around people I like

10) Working with people I respect

11) Using some of my natural talents

12) Using some of my education and experience

13) Adding value to the organization

14) Authority to create new outlets

15) Working in a famous building

16) Working for a famous/infamous organization

17) Adding value to residents’ lives

18) Adding understanding of issues

19) Offering insight into how things get improved

20) Offering insight into how government works

21) An office refrigerator and microwave for lunches from home

22) A state-of-the-art gym in the building

23) Security in the garage

24) Computers that work

25) Available research assistance

26) Yellow paint on the walls for cheerfulness

27) Blue carpet on the floor that’s soothing

28) A cubicle, at least

29) Voice mail

30) E-mail

31) Computer assistance available

32) A lap top to work on from home

33) Co-workers I can laugh with

34) Working with a leader  who works hard herself

35) Working with a boss who is very smart, impressively intelligent

36) Working with a boss who at 73 has the stamina of a 17-year-old

37) Working with a boss who is intensely passionate, however misplaced the passion sometimes

38) Working with a boss who is faithful although she’s not religious

39) Working with a boss who is resilient

40) Working with a boss who is flexible

41) Working with a boss who has adapted to the 60s, 70, 80, 90s, and turn-of-the century

42) Working with a boss who had taken public, embarrassing defeats in stride

43) Working with a boss who loves her job

44) Working with a boss who is tireless (because she’s an example of what’s possible)

45) Working with a boss who is clearly living “on purpose”

46) Working with a boss who is celebrated

47) Working with a boss who is loved by many

48) Working with a boss who has remarkable successes to her credit

49) Working with a boss who contributes to others’ successes

50) Working with a boss who speaks lovingly about her children

51) Working with a  boss who will send certain staffers notes of praise

52) Working with a boss who have given me and other young and middle-aged people opportunity

53) Working in a building designed by inspiration

54) Working in a building millions visit

55) Working in a building made of fine materials

56) Riding an underground train between buildings

57) Being a part of an historic Congress

58) Working in government during a historic time

59) Being in a position to tell the story from the inside

60) Being able to know the story from the inside

61) Being able to love the story as it happens

62) Being able to tell the story as it happens

63) Being in a position to help shape new laws

64) Being in a position to tell how new laws are shaped

65) Being in a position to understand how law is influenced

66) Being in a position to see earnest efforts of politicians

67) Being in a position to learn to trust elected officials

68) Being in a position to grow beyond deep-rooted cynicism

69) Being in a position to save toward retirement

70) Being in a position to receive matching funds for 5 % of my salary

71) Being in walking distance daily from the Library of Congress w/ free parking

72) Being in a position to meet people who love serving the public

73) Being in a position to work with people who love serving the public

74) Helping serve the public

75) Helping make sure government works for individuals and community organizations

76) Being in a position to help make sure public officials are honest

77) Being in a position to help make sure public funds and trust are spent properly

78) Being in a position to reach someone in the White House on the phone

79) Being in a position to help people I know gain access to resources

80) Being in a position to help restore public trust in government

81) Being in a position to help others grow beyond their debilitating cynicism

82) Having good physical health so I can focus on the tasks at hand

83) Having good mental health so I can focus on the tasks at hand

84) A boss who loves teaching young people

85) A boss who believes government should serve the people and who works to make that happen

86) Being in a position to listen to debate on legislation all day as I work

87) Learning new skills while being paid

88) Challenges that have pushed me farther than I thought I could go

89) Finding that I can work longer days that I have in my life

90) Finding that I can work long days for longer periods than I have before

91) Finding that I can adapt to difficult circumstances

92) Realizing that I need to adapt much quicker for greater success

93) Being in a position to help ensure others’ success simply by doing my job well

94) Having resources to maintain my living expenses and unexpected expenses

95) Having resources to maintain credit lines for emergencies

96) Being in a position to leap into a much better financial position

97) Being in a position to gather rich material for books

98) Inspiration for book titles and characters

99) Being in a position where others can see my talents and excellence

100)                Meeting new friends

I had been feeling over-worked and under-paid, taxed and exhausted.  But last week, the maladjustment to my current circumstances almost became debilitating. So, I decided to spend this week focusing, instead, on a question a friend of mine would ask me. How does God get the glory out of this? Whenever I complained, Chee-Chee would ask “How does God get the glory?” and encourage me to find the sparks of light, the reasons to be grateful rather than resentful of the same situation.  Today I set out to begin compiling my list, and was pleasantly surprised that the gratitude flowed.  Within minutes I was looking at 35 reasons to be grateful for my job. In less than 30 minutes I had listed 100 reasons, not including paid holidays. I could probably come up with 100 more reasons. But this is enough to take the edge off the four complaints I paid daily homage to in the last year or so.