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The Long Road to a New Beginning

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I know I haven’t been here in a while. I decided I could really only concentrate on one blog at a time. But occasionally, I’ll still need to spill my guts about things that might be too personal to share on a more professional blog. I talked a little bit about my new job in a post called Be Awesome: Make a Comeback. I hope you check it out and enjoy it.

But I needed to say more.

When I think about where my life was five years ago, compared to how things are now, especially compared to how they will hopefully be starting on Wednesday when I begin my new job, it’s hard to believe I am even the same person.

The past few months have been really stressful with our financial situation and the drama with the wedding. And I’ve struggled with bouts of depression about my professional life since moving to Hawaii and trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. It hasn’t been easy. But when I remember five years ago, well, this was only a small hill to climb.

In the summer of 2008, I was single and bitter and lost. My mother was dying. Cancer was eating her brain, and in a way I’d already lost her. She was still with us, but she wasn’t the same. I can’t imagine how frightening that must have been for her. I was also jobless. Maybe I should have taken that opportunity to get out of teaching, but I guess it just wasn’t time. The situation was bad, and I wasn’t handling it well.

I think I managed to make some people think I was doing fine. I forced myself to get up and put on clothes and act like a human most days. Other days, I hid. I cried, and I pulled at my hair. I didn’t know who I was or where I was going. I somehow stayed hopeful, ultimately, but I’m not entirely sure how I made it out alive.

I remember Emily used to try to do things to make me laugh. She has always been so sensitive.

The past five years have taken me down a crazy path. It led me to a man who I believe will always look after me. That has made all the difference. Still, I think there might have been some small bit that I can take credit for. Even for all the days back then when I didn’t leave my bedroom, there were a lot more days when I did, but I never wanted to. That has to count for something.

My name, Renee, means born again. I have transformed more times than I can count, and each time has been excruciating. But this incarnation feels the most beautiful. I have learned to become a wife and a mother in a new way. I have learned to reach for things that make me happy, and to accept that I deserve them. And I have found a way to serve my community in a job that I hope will bring me pride and satisfaction.

This job will mean so much for us financially. To have the stability of a steady paycheck, bigger than I’ve ever received, which, as a former teacher isn’t saying much, is such a relief. I’ll have health insurance again, and if you’ve ever been without it, you know what a relief that can be. It gives us a bit of peace.

But to have a job title that I’m not embarrassed about is the biggest relief of all. Look out, world. I’m about to become the queen of nonprofit development. I may not be able to save the whole world, but I think I’ve saved myself. That seems like a tremendous place to start.



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I went for a job interview yesterday for a low paying position doing work I find terribly depressing dealing with people who are in a bad situation. Not helping them, but taking from them. Still I’m currently making zero dollars an hour, so ten would definitely be an improvement. But is it enough to have to deal with people who are in desperate situations every day?

Every day I have a secret wish that the agency will call me and offer me a temp to hire position with the Foodbank. I’m comfortable there. I know what to expect. I can feel good about the organization I work for.  I would even work part time or as needed if it meant that I didn’t have to do a job I hate.

But I desperately need work, and by work of course, I mean money.

Naturally, the work I want to do doesn’t make me any money at all. Getting a job means there’s a lot less time for it. I guess I’ll just have to work harder.

I’m also secretly hoping that one of the other two people interviewing for this position today will be really outstanding and need/want the job more than me, so that I won’t have to make the difficult decision to turn it down.  Or take it. And work for the devil for the rest of my life.

I suppose I could take it until I can go back to the Foodbank in November. Ugh. What should I do?

In other news, I made this awesome calzone grilled cheese sandwich and took it’s picture for you. Make one. It will cheer you up after a day of agonizing.

All At Once

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I haven’t been around here much lately. I just didn’t have anything to say. I was busy hanging out with my kid and worrying about money and doing things that are probably pretty boring that you don’t want to hear about. I have to remind myself that it’s not the end of the world if I miss a few posts from time to time.


Emily flew out Monday night. I successfully managed not to cry while she was packing. We spent the day waiting for a tropical storm to hit, so it was raining the entire day. We hung around the house playing games, reading, and enjoying our last hours in the same house. But all too soon it was time to get in the car and drive to the airport.

This was her first solo trip that wasn’t a direct flight, so we went over the procedure several times, and I insisted that she call me at every airport. And before I had time to catch my breath, it was time to send her through security and on her way out of our daily lives until Christmas. I smiled, hugged her hard, told her I loved her and was so very proud of her, that she would love her new school, and I couldn’t wait for her to come back. We stood there and watched her disappear around the corner, and my heart broke like it does every single time. I’m not strong enough for this.

But you keep breathing and the Earth keeps spinning and you have to continue with your life. I’ve had my resume put forward for three different jobs at the agency this week. I’m desperately hoping that I will be going to a job, any job, by Monday morning. I am in desperate need of a paycheck.

In the meantime, I’m still wishing that blogging could be my job, but I don’t think I’m very good at it. I’m going to try to put more focus and energy into it now that our little pretend vacation is over. I need a job so I can do the work I’m interested in. The work that brings me joy.  I’m not giving up. I’m still learning. I need to remember that I still haven’t reached the six month mark, the point at which I was supposed to be launching my own site that I’ve already had for two months. It’s gonna be okay.

The day after Emily leaves is always a day to reflect and readjust. That emptiness has to be filled somehow. I hope one of these days before I die I can become a person that my daughter can be proud of. Maybe some day.


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Tuesday was lovely. Air conditioning might be my favorite thing right now. With my wallet nearly empty, and three days left until pay day, we threw up our hands, got in the car, and went to the movies. Eighteen dollars for three hours of entertainment and cold air seems like a fair trade. I just want my family to be happy. Dinner was taken care of with one more day of leftovers. It was a good choice.

We saw The Lone Ranger. It was exciting to look at and had a decently compelling story. I have to say, there were a few moments where I wanted them to just get on with it. My favorite character was the horse. Johnny Depp can dress in Spam cans and read the Bible and I’d watch that. He was much better than that in this movie. I’m just sayin’.

The stats on Awesome on 20 have been, as I predicted, fairly abysmal since our crazy record breaking day a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what to do to build it more. Once our little vacation is over, I need to start committing more time to this endeavor. I need to figure out how to make people like me. I’m no Katniss Everdeen. She made people love her without trying. I’ve never been able to make people like me. But 67 likes on Facebook and 32 followers on Twitter is just not going to cut it. Nobody is getting the word.

Okay, this is boring. I don’t know how to be successful. If I ever figure it out. I’ll let you know.

Keepin’ On

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Monday was long and hard and full of malaise. I probably wasn’t as empathetic and sensitive as I could have been. I remember depression only too well. I shouldn’t lose my patience. Hopefully soon, my love will be able to see the beautiful things in his life. He won’t consider medication, so all I can do is wait and hope that things improve. I don’t know what else to do but to love him. I’ve tried everything I can think of.

I tried again to get everyone out of the house, but it’s a losing battle. I dragged them to the air conditioned mall to buy an SD card for Geoff’s new phone. They just wanted to go back to the hot house. I give up on trying to be comfortable.

Geoff worked on his novel, and I took photos of the leftover burgers from from the picnic. We made plans to go to the movies the next day. Three full hours of blessed air conditioning.

I need to learn to be more understanding. I need to learn to be more patient. I need to learn to put the needs of others before my own. What I want is not as important as my family’s happiness. I need to keep repeating that. I need to remember myself. They matter most.

Pack Your Basket

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Sunday we prepped our picnic. Or rather, I prepped our picnic. I made and photographed brownie butterscotch pudding parfaits. Oh, and then I wrote a post for them. I also made some seasoned butter to use on our grilled corn. Might as well just combine all the things you want to put on your sweet summer corn into one container when you’re going on a picnic. Or even if you’re just eating in your own house. So much easier. I also made up spicy southwest burger patties. We don’t fool around when it comes to feeding our friends.

The heat was growing, and at 5 pm, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get out of the house. We packed up what we thought was everything and headed out.


So we found a table in the crowded park, unpacked, and began to cook. It was halfway through the first batch of burgers that the fire went out. Apparently, we were out of fuel. So off to Safeway I ran to save the day. When we finally had those burgers cooked, only then did we realize the burger buns didn’t make it into the bag.

So maybe it wasn’t a perfect picnic, but it was still a pretty tasty dinner, and it got us out of the hot house. Sometimes, the small triumphs are what you need to focus on. Good food, good friends, big laughs, and deep breaths.

Remarkably Unremarkable

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Saturday was remarkably uneventful. Emily slept until noon. We had lunch and before we knew it, Geoff was home. We hung around the house, played games, and tried not to overheat. Emily skyped with her Washington cousins. Children of varying ages trying to have a conversation is awkward and comical.

Emily managed to convince Geoff to play hide and seek, and they ran around the house laughing for about an hour. Emily was particularly hyper, doing animal impressions until way past the old people’s bedtime.

Trying to only spend nine dollars per day per person is frustrating. It severely limits our choices of activities. Sure, there are plenty of things one can do without spending money, but it’s annoying when you realize that you can’t even afford to get yourself a drink to cool off, or a snack if you’re hungry.

I’m trying to keep my chin up. If we’re going to get out of this hole, we’re going to have to make some sacrifices. I just wish it didn’t have to happen while Emily is here. Geoff loves buying her stuff and taking her places. I think being broke is especially hard on him because he grew up middle class. He’s just not accustomed to not being able to have stuff or to give stuff.

Soon, I’ll be going back to work, and we’ll have one less person to feed. I’m not looking forward to the latter in the least. But the money will stretch just a bit further. Things will eventually go back to normal.

Good things are in the future. I’m just going to keep saying it until it’s true.