23 January 2011

Zina

We all have a Zina in our life. She is the friend that tells you compassionately what you need to hear, even if you don't want to hear it. She is the maternal friend, whose words are like a warm, motherly hug. She is the friend that can make a profound statement, saying the exact thing you needed to hear at that precise moment. She is also this popular phrase: "People come into your life for a reason." As cliche as it is, it is true.

Zina is that friend.

Zina - The Back Story
I met Zina in 2001, my second year working at Telecom Corporation. I instantly liked her.

Zina is special. She is the only person I know who has a sharp tongue and isn't offensive. When she speaks to you, you feel like the most important person in the room. She smiles with her eyes. Her heart is larger than life. She is elegant. Kind. Assertive. Humorous. She has morals. Faith. She has all the best qualities. I admire her.

For several years, Zina and I were co-workers. And then I was her lead, or "coach" as she lovingly called me. We worked closely every week day for a couple of years. She became a friend. A good friend. I wanted to protect her. And then I moved on. I was still in the same department, but on a different floor. I didn't see Zina as often as I would have liked. When I was down on her floor, I made an effort to check in with her. How was her life. How was her heart.

Heartache....
Skip ahead to the year 2010. Zina and I are now working on the same floor. I see her more than once a day, as I pass her desk on the way to the ladies room, lunch room, elevator/stairs, conference rooms.

I told her for my first big race post-pelvis stress fracture, I was doing a charity run for the American Cancer Society (June 2010 Rock 'n' Roll Seattle). I asked her if it was okay that I run in her daughter's memory (Zina's only child had passed from a rare stomach cancer). This brings joy to her heart and she makes a considerable donation to the ACS.

Then in late July, Telecom Corporation tells me my position is being dissolved. They are giving me 30 days to locate another open position within the company or take the severance package. I am speechless and feel a death, after 11 years with the company. A place that was my second home. A place where I had my second family.

Getting the news of an employer severing a contract, losing a friendship without explanation, your parents divorcing, or the sudden death of a family member.... is mournful. These things happen out of our control. We can't stop them from happening. We can only accept the terms, go through the grieving process, and then move on.

I was hopeful I would locate another position within Telecom Corporation. My credentials were stellar, I had high reviews throughout my 11 years and I had references from former managers and directors I worked under, trusted, and respected.

Because of this hope, I was very selective with whom I told this sad news. Besides my husband and my parents, I told 3 very good work friends: Chrissy, Tara, and Zina. I trusted in them that they would keep my news private and that anyone else who had heard, was due to the untrustworthy management's need to gossip.

...Brings Purpose
Alas, the doors and windows to Telecom Corporation were shut tight and locked. The 6 positions I had applied and was fully qualified all seemed to have mysteriously been "filled prior to my application" said Human Resources.

It was an a-ha moment. I had expired. After speaking with several friends and neighbors who had experienced similar, the magic number was 10 years. At 10 years you are making top dollar and getting maximum benefits. When companies have to downsize, it is a smart decision to rid of the most expensive employees in areas of redundancy. 

Another a-ha moment: I got it. It wasn't personal, even though it affected me, my husband, and my very close work friends, personally.

And then Zina's words. Said at the right time. Her words stuck with me. She was my guardian angel.

[in thick, darling Russian accent]
"Larissa darling, you should not be hidden. Uh uh. You should not be put behind some desk, hidden in some office. You need to be out there! People need to see your face! Your smile! Yes!"
Really, I responded.
"Oh yes! You need to be shown. You are beautiful and smart. Very smart. Not just your face beautiful. Your heart too."
[Like I said, this is a wonderful person. She loves with her heart, her smile, and her words.]

I confided to Zina that I really didn't want to do corporate again.
"I want to do something in the line of my passions."
(I must give credit to my former employer for giving me the opportunities and tools to be a writer professionally and paid for continuing education.)
"I want to work for a place I am passionate about."
She suggests being a representative. Maybe for pharmaceuticals. I do have a closest full of suits and heels.

Lasting Impression
Because of Zina's words: "don't be hidden" and "show your face", it solidified my resolve to make a career change. I really felt like she could read my heart and the next steps in my life, and she was there to nudge me.

I really wanted to break into the running industry, something I am passionate about. And I really want to do freelance journalism, as writing is a HUGE passion of mine too. I knew I wanted these things and just wasn't sure how or when I would make the change.

I kept checking in with local area athletic/running companies, but no opportunities were open.

Everything Happens for a Reason

And then it happened. Through a series of events, an opportunity to represent a running gear company landed in my lap. It is a brand and line I am passionate about (a former die-hard customer). And it was in the running industry.

Just like the series of events that landed me the opportunity to meet my husband. The events that paved the way were painful and had heartache. But in the end, I got the prince and the "happily ever after".

If it wasn't for the end of an era with Telecom Corporation, Zina's inspiring words of wisdom, and winning a Running Skirts photo contest (which led to a phone chat with one of the owners), my career change may not have happened.

Once again, I got the "happily ever after".  

10 January 2011

Michael Vick Wants a Dog

"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." ~ Oscar Wilde

Like I occasionally do, I was flipping through a silly magazine when a headline grabbed my attention. Like I rarely do, I read that article under that headline in that silly magazine:

Should Michael Vick be allowed to own a dog again?

Vick stated he would like to own a dog. Someday. If the court allowed him after serving probation.

When I read the short article, this news bothered me immediately, because I am a dog lover. The acts Vick allowed on those dogs - dog fighting - was vile. I remember how mad I was when I first heard the news. The anger I had and sadness I felt made me physically ill.

At the end of the article, a question was posed:

"Even if he's a changed man, should [Vick] be granted the privilege of pet ownership?'

 And it made me think: Should Vick get that opportunity? Doesn't everyone want a second chance? Should we give others a second chance, especially if they have been through rehabilitation, if they have served time for their crime, and if they are seriously remorseful?

There are only two choices, in my opinion: Yes or No.

Time Served
Since Vick was released from prison over 19 months ago (after serving 23 months in prison), he has been on probation (3 years, slated to expire Nov. 2012), agreed to federal authorities' request to provide $1 million for the care of the confiscated dogs, and as part of probation, volunteering for the Humane Society.

Remarkably, he has become a spokesperson for the Humane Society against the atrocities of dog fighting; an anti-violence advocate.

Courtesy of The Humane Society


Redemption
The American dream can mean many different things. Usually what comes to mind, for example, is the boy who grew up in the projects only to become one of the best National Football League players. Such as Michael Vick.

The American Dream can also mean redemption. Getting a second chance after falling.  Falling hard.

We see it often in Hollywood. Such as the drunk actor who makes antisemitic remarks only to come back with an award winning movie. Or the songstress who goes off the deep end only to come back with one of the best selling (and listening!) albums of her entire career.

We see it in ourselves. I look back on my erroneous ways and I can't even count on both hands how many second chances I have had in my own life. I see in myself the imperfections. And when I have fallen, all I want is a kind guide to lead me out; to learn from the mistake; to be forgiven, and to be granted a second chance to prove myself. I think now, where would I be if it wasn't for my parents, my friends, my employers, my husband, if they hadn't given me a second chance; if I hadn't forgiven myself; if I hadn't taken to their help to guide me to safety? Who knows! But I probably wouldn't be in the safe haven I am in now. I don't take my mistakes for granted. I am grateful for my falls, grateful for getting up, and grateful to learn and move on.

So there are two key ingredients, I believe, that give my "Yes"  if Vick wants a companion dog:
  1. Vick has to learn from his horrific mistake (& that will only be between him, God, and the Federal Judge) and doesn't do it again.
  2. Like you, you, me, and all of us, Vick deserves a second chance
Because who are we to make that judgment call? Who are we - all sinners, all fallers, all receivers of second chances - to judge Vick, who in the present, is making a dutiful effort to redeem himself, make good of what he made so bad, and move on for himself, the dogs, his family? 

We are not worthy to judge him.

And just like we have come back from the bottom and done good for others, I hope that truly happens for Vick and that he sees the real beauty between man and dog.

__________________________________________________________________

Have an opinion on this matter? Share with me what you think

If Michael Vick is a changed man, should he be granted the privilege to own a dog/pet?


09 January 2011

AQUARIUS -- Wednesday, 22nd September 2010

Before I got my own blog page(s), I was doing a lot of my "blogging" as facebook notes and DailyMile race reports (check out my running blog: There Goes Nordic Moxie !).

After visiting my FB notes and seeing which ones I wanted to add to PURPOSE, I came across this note, an astrology reading for the Aquarius, 22 September 2010:

"This page is actually blank. No words appear on it. You are imagining all you see. If you don't believe me, ask someone else to take a look. Get them to read it out to you. If they seem to say the same words that you think you have just read, it proves you are hearing things as well as seeing things!
Well of course, really, it doesn't! But it does help me make an important point:
You need to stop doubting yourself. There's one thing you don't know... and it's fine that you don't know it yet. But you can still trust what you do know. Now is the right time for you to take an in-depth, up close and personal look at your life."

Even today, it's reading is a great daily reminder to believe in oneself and constantly look inside to allow ourselves to grow.

I am not an astrology fan, but I do believe some characteristics show up in each sign. I don't believe astrology can guide you; but I do believe somehow it is in tune with the characteristics of that person. And for whatever reason, a person will check out their sign's daily reading - for fun - and it is just what they needed to hear.

Have I Reached "Middle Age"?

And there it was...

A single, white hair.

The only reason it stuck out amongst my baby fine, light blonde hair, was that is was three times thicker and wiry.

Is this really happening? Did I really just find a white hair? How? When? Why?

I thought I was genetically blessed like my maternal tree, where my gorgeous grandmother didn't get grays until her late 60s. My mom started getting the grays in her 50s, but I felt her premature graying was due to her lifestyle (aka lack of relaxing and sleep).

35 is NOT middle age. I don't act it, I don't live it, and to me, I don't think I look it. But maybe I am used to the face I see in the mirror every day. My body certainly is not that of a middle age woman. Sagging hasn't taken place in the areas I have been told "will happen". Perhaps that is genetic blessing or the lack of carrying a baby and the stresses of family life.

My life is hardly stressful, worrisome, or occupied by hectic family schedule. I get the opportunities to take care of myself: adequate sleep, rest, relaxation, workouts

So how did this happen, this thick white hair, now gone down the toilet into the abyss under the streets?

Maybe this was a one time deal for a long time to come. And maybe this is a moment to realize that as we age, we are one day closer to death than the day we were born.

Life is interesting.

Aging is even more entertaining.

08 January 2011

Human Tragedy. Not Politics.

Political terrorist, he is not.

Political gain this is not.




Gabby Giffords & Husband (A/P)
The Victims
  • 19 total shot
  • 6 pronounced dead to date, including a 9 year old girl and a Federal Judge, Justice John Roll
Federal Judge, John Roll (A/P)
  • 11 were reported in critical condition today, including Arizona's 8th congressional district representative, Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords








The Suspect
Jared Lee Loughner's YouTube Channel

Facts we know today on the suspect, Jared Loughner:
  • 22 year old, white male, resident of Tucson
  • Enlisted with the Army but was rejected [reasons why unknown, but a red flag, no?]
  • Suspended from college last September [another red flag?]
  • Enjoys reading books, Communist Manifesto and Mein Kampf to name a few
  • Rejects the American Constitution and The Bible
  • Favorited a YouTube video showing  the burning of the American flag
  • Upset by what he claims is an illiteracy problem in his district, and the US currency 
  • His YouTube videos ramblings wing demonstrate a man who appears mentally ill
Jared Lee Loughner













Tragedy
When Rep. Giffords, her staff, and citizens of Arizona showed up at the Safeway in Tucson, they were there to practice one of their First Amendment rights: Freedom to Assemble.

The rest is history.

Witnesses say the suspect, Loughner, approach individuals indiscriminately and shot them "point blank in the head". Witnesses claim they did not see an accomplice. Loughner told authorities earlier today, upon custody, that he was acting alone. Of course an investigation is occurring, not only involving local authorities, but the FBI and ICE too.

At the time of the Safeway massascre, it was reported that Gabby Giffords was dead. Later, the hospital spokesperson said she was and they had revived her. She immediately had a brain operation and the last news was she was responding positively to the doctors commands.

With a tragedy that killed 6, it is a glorious miracle to hear at least one life was saved. I pray for the souls of the victims lost, for the surviving victims, may they recover quickly, and for the victims families and friends. It wasn't just the 19 that were affected by today's tragedy. It was a nation.

Politics
I had just gotten back from a nice 6 mile run and was checking my messages on my smartphone while stretching. A breaking news story had come in from the Washington Post saying 15 had been shot, and two were federal employees. Then another breaking news memo, this one stating a congresswoman was dead (as reported above, she is alive to date).

Immediately, I felt sickened, shocked, and surprised that something this tragic happened. My thoughts were on the victims and the families of the victims. I was concerned and angry. Why do these things still happen?

Yet biased media were quick to theorize he was a right-wing symphethizer. Public figures on Huffington Post using this tragedy for political gain? It seemed that way. Because what was being stated in such articles and blogs were theories. Not even facts (other than the said victims being mentioned and the time line).

Anyone associated with the right, be it a Republican, conservate, or Tea Party member, is not a fan of Marxist readings nor Mein Kampf. They don't reject the American flag; they proudly display it, even waving it when practicing Freedom to Assemble. They don't reject the Constitution, as their fundemental values are to protect, practice, and keep the Rights in tact. And anyone who considers themselves on the right who has friends, wouldn't be quoted as saying to the press that [Loughner] is "left-wing, quite liberal."

Reflect
Today's tragedy will garner new lessons to learn from. It is a time to reflect. It is a time to come together, citizens, and support one another. Not make a mockery out of this, while so many are suffering and in pain.

07 January 2011

We Change.

About 5 years ago, I had set up a blog account via Blogger. I got as far as a blog name and profile picture.

Stop.

I didn't get much further than that. Either blogger.com wasn't intuitive enough for me to figure out, I didn't have time, or it felt too self-absorbing. I believe it was the latter.

If we think about it, blogging - if used as a personal outlet - is minor narcissism.  Talking about ourselves. Our thoughts. Our opinions. Assuming others care.
(In my case, I don't know who would really care about what I think, other than those who really love and know me.)

Or... an outlet to document one's life.

We change.

This is the conclusion I have came to after all these years. A blog is a place to memoralize personal experiences, memories, thoughts. A place viewed like a yearbook: looking back at how we have changed; or not changed.

In the aspect of to blog or not to blog, I have changed. My opinion of the matter has changed. I am open to it (obviously). And I also want to have an outlet to practice my writings. I am rusty.

After 11 years in corporate at a single company, I got burned. Energy zapped. Inspiration lacking. Thoughts felt dead. Filtered to death by the political-correct organization. Years of fitting into a mold that came with choosing PC words, and sentences that wouldn't offend anyone. This, unfortunately, drifted into my own personal life. I allowed it.
(Does walking around on egg shells 24/7 sound fun to you?)

During those 11 years, my writings became less about me and more about work. My work was writing. Writing for the industry. Technical writing. Training writing. Communication writing. I didn't have energy to write a poem, a love letter to my sweetheart, or practice article writing outside of the industry I worked for.

We change.

In the last 4+ months, I went from corporate to unemployed-lady-of-leisure to self employed. In less than those 4 months, I got back the joy of writing. My energy bank is now FULL. I see inspiration constantly. I have changed.

I now see the PURPOSE in blogging. I have since forgiven myself for being so judgmental about the act of blogging. I now look forward to sharing my purpose, my thoughts, my opinions, my writings, if for anyone, for myself.

Because we can change.