taking stock.

i have confessed in a previous blog posting to have watched a few episodes of gene simmon’s family jewels, which of late has been quite fascinating in his quest to find out what is most important in life…and make necessary changes in light of what he has discovered.
sometime back, i wrote down something genie [as shannon so endearingly calls him] said,

sometimes you have to take stock, realize what is most important and what can be relinquished. ~gene simmons

this coming from a man who, seemingly, has it all.
a career, still booming decades later. kids. a supportive and loving partner. world recognition. the iconic “hollywood” life.

yet, does he have all that he wants?

lately, these words have come to the forefront of my mind. i think fk and i have that which we want. careers and jobs we both truly like. being close to my family. having a relationship with his family. most of what we want and all of what we need.

but life gets complicated sometimes.
there are options.
and more options.
goals.
dreams.
securities.
things we want…or think we want.
decisions to be made…big decisions.

being in the present has made me realize what matters and what is most important.
for fk to truly enjoy his job, to enjoy working with his co-workers, to make a contribution, to feel appreciated, to do a job well done, to receive recognition of that.
doesn’t seem like too much…but as we have known, it isn’t always like that.
for fk and i to find something that works for us. to make time to spend with one another in our very different schedules. to focus on what we do have, rather than what is not. to enjoy our time together. and for us to be able to connect.
and for me to truly enjoy what i do.

sure, there will be obstacles and there will be opportunities…
what can be relinquished are the “what if’s” and the plans i think i must already make in my mind. i don’t have to have all the answers, to have it all figured out, or to have some 10 year plan in place.
these obstacle and opportunities allow us to reach a consensus of what works best for us [now].
and for me that is what matters most.

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9.11.11.

i have no words to describe the thoughts and feelings of the 10th anniversary that changed the world [our world, my world, the world we once knew]…or i have been unable to put scattered words into cohesive sentences or full thoughts. and even still, 10 years and 4 days later i am at a loss.

of course i know where i was and what i spent the day doing that fateful tuesday in 2001.
of course the tv coverage, the images that once flooded those screens continue to flood my mind.
i have not been able to forget…
yet somehow, it seems i have been unable to fully process it as well.

fk and i spent the 10th anniversary remembering and sharing where we were, how we felt, how the world around us changed.

i remembered a summer several years before that fateful day going to the WTC to get half-price broadway tickets…surveying the surrounding the sites wondering what made these buildings so special. what seemed like just stories of office buildings back then, now no longer…a place bustling with people and energy, now synonymous with such tragedy.

i remembered seeing the site a few years later…a space filled with construction crews and equipment. a hollow shell of what was.

he remembered what it felt like being someone of a different ethnicity [albeit a US citizen], how he felt, support he received from those with whom he worked, and phone calls from worried friends throughout the country. since i don’t see fk as different than me, it had never occurred to me how he was perceived in the days, weeks, months following.

he remembered how he felt seeing those around the world rejoicing over the tragedy we were experiencing…those whom looked much more like himself than those with whom he shared a kindred grief. the anger, the resentment, the hurt.

i remembered flying just weeks later how everything changed, how one of my co-workers [the one with olive skin, dark hair, goatee…the one which fit a similar profile] was always the subject of a “random search”…every time. every flight.

and we watched a special on tv together.
a memorial, of sorts, to the nyfd and those directly affected in the moment, the days, the months afterwards. those who felt loss, searched for any sort of hope in rescue efforts, came up hopeless in the aftermath.
the toll that it took on them then.
the toll it continues to take on them today.

and i am grateful.
grateful to live in such a place where heroes are memorialized.
grateful for the graciousness of humanity in the face of tragedy.
grateful to be a part of people who does not give up,
does not lose heart,
but continues to live,
to thrive,
to bounce back,
to rebuild,
and to remember.

i will not forget.

aware.

this blog posting started a few months ago with a conversation i had with one of my co-workers. a conversation where the word “they” was mentioned repeatedly.
“that is just how ‘they’ are.”
“‘they’ have been known to do these types of things.”

you get the picture.

“they” prescribed to a group of people much different than herself [or even myself] with which great generalities were made and conclusions drawn. now set in stone.
having no personal relationships with any of “them.”
doing nothing to try to get to know “them.”
only relying on speculation, past [one-sided] experiences, and unknowns.

i realize we all operate on some sort of premise, especially with others that are different from ourselves.
we draw conclusions,
we make assumptions,
we formulate opinions…
all without actually spending the time to get to know someone different,
all without trying to see another’s perspective, side, upbringing, or culture,
all without doing anything on our part to see things [or people] differently.

i have had such encounters elsewhere, sure i have. but maybe i recognize them more where the world seems a little smaller, a little [lot] more homogenous, a little less traveled, a little less open-minded.
but maybe these are my own assumptions…

i shelved the blog posting and my thoughts surrounding the conversation chalking it up to ignorance. ignorance, not in the negative sense, but the unknown. unknown and not-yet willing to step outside of one’s own comfort zone to see similarities, instead of differences. and maybe the lack of opportunity to do so.

i read a friend’s blog the past few days where she has opened up that she [and her family] have embraced a new “faith”…not such a different one than her christian upbringing, just a different form. and her fear of what others, who grew up in the same manner as herself, might have to say about it. i can see where she is coming from… it will be those who may have never met someone of this faith, or who rely on what they have learned from books/seminary classes/et cetera to formulate their opinions on this faith…without realizing all do not embrace shared faith similarly.

which brings me to a show we watched last night on a muslim community in murfeesboro, tn. this community that has been thwarted at every turn to build a place of worship because of the fears of others in the community.
fear of new traffic patterns,
fear of burials not in coffins,
[unfounded] fear of sharia law,
[unfounded] fear of jihad,
and fear of religion [or in their case, where they do not consider islam a religion at all] other than their own.
the rights the people in this community so freely enjoy are the same rights they are trying to take away from others. all because of their fear, the unknown, the ignorance…on their part.
never leaving the comfort of their own lives to see how these muslims are, what they think, and how they feel.
never.
pointing the finger, instead, at the others that have never tried to “assimilate” into the rest of the community.
acting as if they, themselves, are the victims.

it just makes me aware of other people, other beliefs, other cultures, other ways of doing things that are different from my own. we all grew up in our own context, seeing the world through jaded eyes. we all interpret things a little differently.
and it is my responsibility to see the similarities, not just the differences among us. to find some sort of middle ground.

it is always harder to find fault, criticize, generalize, victimize when you have actually tried to walk in another’s shoes…seeing the world differently.

it’s tough.

i have just finished [literally less than 11 hours ago] a book that i will save for another blog posting, when i can actually find the mental energy to do so. it’s a book that tells the story, the story of a relationship, a relationship that ultimately forms a marriage.
and i guess it has me thinking about relationships…or maybe it is the conversations i have had these past few weeks regarding relationships that has me thinking.
whatever the reason, i am thinking.

and the only conclusion i can come up with is that it’s tough.
relationships are work…hard work.
any relationship is work, and all the more those with romantic under-and-overtones.

there involves a give-and-take,
understating,
support,
encouragement,
concession…
all from one who is altogether different [and sometimes opposite] from you.
seems rather daunting a task when looked at that way.
seems rather fatalistic.
seems rather…tough.

and in my almost 1.5 years of marriage, i can vouch that it is work.
i love it, of course, but it is tough.
it is hard trying to leave my own emotions out of it and think what is best for another or what another needs [without my needs clouding my judgement]. i find this task not just tough but oftentimes impossible.
it is hard to move at the same pace,
be on the same page,
travel in the same direction at the same speed,
and just keep up.
it is hard to know what to do sometimes, to know what is best.
it is hard to connect two people with two different lives outside of one another.
it is tough.

but there’s middle ground.
there’s a commonality.
there’s a sense of we’re in this together…taking the bad with the good.
there’s a communal sense of we’re not alone…others are on this journey as well, some faring far better and some not so well.
there’s a sense that relationships are always changing, always evolving, always growing…and it is up to us to change, evolve, and grow along with them.

it’s tough…
but it’s worth it.

since 1870.

the newest addition to my [addiction] collection.
an exclusive.
a relic, of sorts.
that which is well known to species such as me.
that which is being discontinued from the work collection.
that which i could not pass up.
that which is now owned by species such as me.

conference.

it began a week ago…exactly.
what some may consider to be the biggest event in the GM’s year [beside holiday, of course].
conference.
GMs from all over the country [and others outside], from all brands, for all types of stores, servicing all kinds of customers.
you know, the conference that i was, for some reason, anxious about attending.
that one.
the same one i was told [afterward] that i was a good example of someone making the best use out of conference. me…the one who, for a few days previous, didn’t even want to go.
the same one who was in extreme need of being a part of this.
the same one who needed to feel a part of something bigger.

the one where you stand on your chairs clapping, dancing, singing at the start of each general session. everyone.
the one where people line up 30 minutes prior to get a seat close up front [the one we never got].
the one where the ballroom is packed full of 1200 people. jam-packed.

the one where you attend a meet-and-greet with others in your region…and somehow rack up on awards you didn’t know were coming to you.
or maybe that was just me.
the one where you hang out non-stop with others in your district. and for me it was the first time to put a face with a voice and a name.
a time to bond, to connect, to form relationships.

a time to learn about [new] products, [new] skills, [new] ways of doing things. a time to cook, to see the difference between one pan and another, one knife and another.
a time to learn from the best of the best, such as these two or this one

a time to get away from the day-to-day life of a GM, a time to refresh, to think, to imagine what can be, to breathe, to walk, to take it all in. a time to think about making healthy lifestyle choices, a time to make commitments that involve making such daily choices.

a time to connect, to re-connect. a time to celebrate, a time to remember that for which you have to be thankful, those whom have molded and shaped you, those whom stand beside you today.

a time to see that this which you do,
this which you are a part is much bigger than you…