Person #3 Oh, the People You’ll Meet.

I haven’t written for the past couple of days because I have been feasting. I have been feasting on delicious food, sweet friendships, robust conversations, great teachings and refreshing fountains of Living Water. Yesterday my way leads onto way life took me on a shortish road trip, a little journey down memory lane and a catch up with many wonderful faces from the past, one of whom was the widow of my person #3.

I had been doing this solo parenting gig for several years and I had known for some time that if I wanted to undertake a change of location, the beginning of the next year would be the time to do that. My eldest would begin 1st year university, the next would move into senior secondary school, the next into the first year of secondary and the youngest into year 1 of primary school. Since everyone would be beginning a new leg of learning if I was contemplating a move, that would be the time to do it. As it turned out we did move but not to another city, state or country but across the city to a suburb on the bay-side.

This meant two other things would change. I needed to find new employment and I needed a church family in my new location. The employment I secured by responding to an advertisement in the paper for a dental nurse. I had not worked as a dental nurse for about 15 years but soon got back into the swing of it. Some products had changed/improved and since the discovery of the AIDS virus, masking and gloving was an essential but the actual care for patients, reassuring them, being kind, gentle and understanding their fears had not changed. So all was good, except for one problem which became evident as the weeks and months wore on. The employment turned out to be more of an as needed basis rather than set and regular hours. It was a one man practice and I understood that the dentist needed his nurse when he had bookings, but unfortunately most of those turned out to be in the afternoon and evenings. I had put a lot of work into my family and now I felt it was being undone because I was not in the home when most needed.

Enter Person #3. He was a member at the congregation where I had decided to worship and also the Burser at the school my children attended. So one Sunday I asked him if there were any opportunities of employment at the school and I explained to him why I felt it important to make a change. His response was no, there is nothing available but he suggested I submit my resume to the school. I told him I had already done this as before I even moved into the area and before I had applied and been successful in the position of dental nurse, I had visited every school in the vicinity and submitted my resume. This was because I knew employment in school hours would be the best fit. But anyway, there was nothing available; he would keep me in mind. This was Sunday.

On Wednesday of that same week, I received a phone call from the school. Could I come in for an interview the next day? Someone had had a change in their situation and there was a position vacant. Is God at work in our lives? You bet He is! I was to be interviewed by the Deputy Principal. I arrived for the interview but the woman who was to interview me was unwell and she had not come into work that day. In her absence I was interviewed by P#3. This was not a complete push over; I still had to interview well and I needed prove that I was competent to do the task. The school had a very high standard and prided itself on always putting the best people in front of their students, so I needed to measure up.

But I can tell you, almost word for word how this interview concluded.

“These positions are highly sought after. There are probably about 30 other people I could give this job to. But I am going to offer it to you because I know your situation and I know how much difference it will make to your life. I also believe you will do the job well. You will be on a 3 month probation. How soon can you start?”

And so began my employment in the school education system. Previously I had worked from my home based business as a Family Day Care provider and Early Childhood Educator. I worked at this wonderful school for 11 years and it was another place of employment where I simply loved going to work each day.

Over the following years, P#3, a wonderful, humble, caring Christian man encouraged me in more ways than I can say. I am very pleased that I was able to thank him many times for the opportunity he afforded me all those years ago. Once again, one small conversation opened doors to a whole new, at that time unseen, pathway in my life.

Person #2 Oh, the People You’ll Meet.

The pain woke me. Something was wrong. I looked in the mirror and the right side of my face had blown up like a balloon and the right eye was just a slit. On the roof of my mouth was a throbbing round mass. I had a palatal abscess. For a couple of weeks the tooth second from the front had been a bit niggly; I would put my fingernail between it and my front tooth and the niggle would go away. I told myself there was nothing to worry about as I had just been to the dentist and had this tooth filled with one of those new white composite fillings. Well that indeed was the problem, the base under the composite had either been forgotten or not applied correctly and the chemicals from the composite had travelled through the little tubes of dentene and attacked the nerve. The niggles had been the nerve dying and then one night, it all just blew up with infection. An emergency trip to the Dental Clinic was necessary and this is how I met Person #2. She was the nursing sister who administered the penicillin injections in my rump to bring the infection under control.

This palatal abscess proved to be a doozy. It would not drain, despite being lanced and pushed and shoved in every direction to get the infection out and for several days I attended the clinic each day and even after the abscess was under control there were lots of visits to sort out the future of this tooth. The staff got to know me quite well.

Fast forward, my mother had passed away and I had resigned from my sales assistant role to go home to the farm and help out. Friends had advised against this move, they thought I would go back to the farm and get stuck there. I didn’t think this would happen, but honestly, I was physically and emotionally exhausted and knew this was the right decision. So it is a Friday and I am in one of the large department stores in the town, spending my tax return, as you do when young and fashion is far more important that savings, on a flash red bag when Person #2 approached me to offer condolences for my mum and we had a quick chat. We were just about to part when I said, “By the way, you don’t happen to have any jobs going at the Dental Clinic, do you?”

“Why, do you want one?”

“Yes, I think I could be an OK Dental nurse.”

“Well, there is nothing at the moment, but in the new year we are expecting several new graduates and we will need extra staff then.”

And that was it. A 20 second conversation basically on the back of a throw away line. P#2 must have gone back to the clinic, relayed our conversation and the powers that be must have agreed to put my name forward as prospective staff. I received a letter stating that I would be employed the following year and that was it, until several months later when I was phoned to be advised my starting date and to come to the clinic to collect a bolt of fabric and arrange uniforms to be made.

P #2 and I have long, long since lost contact but she deserves mention here a someone who played a significant role in my way leads onto way life. This began one of my most wonderful times and I simply loved going to work and loved everything about this job. This also is where I met, and subsequently married H1, the father of my four amazing offspring.

Person # 1: Oh,The People You’ll Meet.

The country primary school I attended had three teachers. One teacher taught years 1&2 another taught years 3,4 & 5 and years 6&7 were taught by the headmaster. It was a small school and cosy. It was easy to know everyone in the school and most of the parents knew each other and they knew you. Still we had our friendship groups and I was friends with three other girls. When it came time to move onto secondary school we all had to go by bus to the nearest city; two of those girls went to the Girls Grammar School and the other to the Range Convent, only I went to the State High School.

I arrived in year 8 at a the biggest school in the town and was put into a class of about 30 others where I knew no-one; it was quite daunting for this little country kid. Most other students had come from much larger schools in the town and so this was not such a big deal for them as they already knew at least someone. As we settled in friendships groups began to form and after a few trial and errors my friendship with one very beautiful person began to flourish.

Friendships work when there is a mixture of differences and similarities. There needs to be enough similarities for there to be a meeting of minds on some issues but enough differences for each person to be an individual and have respect, even admiration, for the talents and qualities of the other. When people are too similar they can be tempted into thinking friendship is a competition. P#1 and I have never had this problem as we have lead different paths in life, never lived in each other’s pockets and never needed the other to be something other than who they are. We have that type of friendship where we may not see each other or even talk for months but when we do connect we just pick up where we left off as we have such a rich history to draw on.

For every significant event in our lives the other has been there usually in person but if that was not possible, in heart. We have been friends for over 50 years now and I am certain my life is much richer for our friendship. While P#1 may not have actually changed or shaped the course of my life, I am abundantly blessed to have someone who has known me for so long, understands my family and background, has loved me through my heartaches and rejoiced with me in my victories and it is my privilege to have shared her journey also.

Many, many people come and go in life, many friendships are for a season and they fill a role and purpose, many people are acquaintances or work colleagues and it is always wonderful to catch up with folks from the past but it is easy to lose touch and wonder what ever happened to so and so. Along the way both P#1 and I have seen other people much more frequently than we have seen each other but P#1 and I have an enduring friendship and if God grants us the days, I see us as old ladies still catching up, picking up from where we left off last time and both of us always ever so thankful that we ended up in that same year 8 class.

Oh, The People You’ll Meet (Dr.Seuss)

The title of my blog, wayleadsontoway.life, is inspired from a line in Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, a nod to my love of poetry and a testament to the unfolding of pathways my life has taken. In the next series of blogs I am going to share with you just a few of the people who have impacted my life and shaped its course and without meeting them my life would have been very different.

The first person I met in life was my mother. A beautiful human and many times I have been told,”your mother was as angel”. My father was strict, fair and loving in that I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve because it gets too easily rubbed of there, stiff upper lip old British style. As the youngest of a family of seven, I had six siblings and from an early age my family was both contracting, as one by one older siblings left home to make their own homes, and expanding as brothers and sisters in law and subsequently nephews and nieces were added. I love all my siblings dearly and credit our parents for being fair and not showing favouritism to any of us or acting in ways which would pitch one against the other as sometimes happens in families.

We were taught to be honest, industrious, law abiding citizens; we were taught respect and understood that character and integrity were personal riches. We were taught to respect God and His Word and this set the trajectory for my personal faith. I have often wondered if I would have searched out Christianity for myself if it had not been taught in my birth home. I like to think I would have and because God does not have grandchildren, only children, regardless of any of the circumstances around us, the seeking of God must be a personal quest.

While on the subject of family as the people you will meet, I must include the four, now adult, children for whom I am blessed to be a mother. They are among my greatest blessings and best teachers, they have shaped my life and taken me to places physically, emotionally and spiritually I would not have missed for anything. They continue to bless me and my blessings include their spouses and my grandchildren.

I have meet countless wonderful people in my life thus far and expect to meet many more. I hope you will join in in this coming week as I look at five people, not family members, who have played, whether they know it or not, a very significant role in my way leads onto way life.

You will forget all this.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human

Rule NO. 10 You will forget all this. You will forget all the above rules unless you regularly practice some means of staying focused and grounded in the present. Your ego will continually try to trick you into blaming your past or becoming anxious about the realities of life.

Rule 10 reminds us how easily we can forget and become trapped in a cycle of blame, anxiety and /or depression if we do not stay focused and grounded in the present. It is true, we cannot change the past; we must do what we need to do in coming to some form of peace with it but it cannot be changed. We cannot capture, predict or control the future but we need to face it with hope and courage. All we have is the present and to begin each new day with resilience and the determination that for as much as it lies within me, I will make the most of today; this indeed is a gift.

Following is a post of the rules in context. It is my hope that you will find some that you can embrace.

Rule No.1 You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

Rule No.2 You will learn lessons. We are enrolled in a full time informal school called life. Each day, we are presented with opportunities to learn what we need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those we think we need.

Rule No.3 There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. We learn as much from failure as we can from success. Maybe more.

Rule No.4 A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to us in various forms until we have learned it. When we have learned it (as evidenced by a change in our attitude and ultimately our behaviour) then we can go on to the next lesson

Rule No. 5 Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as we live there will be something more to learn.

Rule No.6 There is no better than “here”. When our “there” becomes a here, we will simply discover another “there” that will again look better than our “here”. Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what we have.

Rule No.7 Others are merely mirrors of you. We cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something we love or hate about ourselves.

Rule No.8 What we make of our life is up to us. We have all the tools and resources we need. What we create with those tools and resources is up to us.

Rule No.9 The answers lie inside us. The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within our grasp. All we need to do is ask, look, listen and trust.

Rule No.10 You will forget all this. You will forget all the above rules unless you regularly practice some means of staying focused and grounded in the present. Your ego will continually try to trick you into blaming your past or becoming anxious about the realities of life.

The answers lie inside us.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human.

Rule No.9 The answers lie inside us. The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within your grasp. All we need to do is ask, look, listen and trust.

So if we accept the premise that all of life’s problems and struggles are for our learning and their purpose is to polish us into a better human, it follows that solutions are within our grasp. It is just that sometimes, even often, the solutions are not the ones we think we want. We have made up in our minds, without knowing or understanding all the hidden elements of the situation how we want our problem to resolve so we push and shove, frustrate and exhaust ourselves… and nothing changes. I have been there more times than I would like to confess; it is no fun and in the end things turn out not at all the way I think they should but in hindsight, definitely for the best.

Rule No. 9 dovetails with Rule No. 2 which in part says, the lessons presented are often completely different from the ones we “think” we need and often so are the solutions. We just have to let go and let God because He does know all the unseen elements of any situation. It is important who we ask, look, listen and trust because we can be deceived and we can deceive ourselves. If the answers lie inside us, no one else can be the solution for my problem. Other people can love, they can listen, they can provide practical help, they can pray, and sometimes they can give wise counsel but the problem cannot be fixed from the outside.

Taking time to listen to the pain of others is important. No! They do not want you to tell them how to fix their problem, they need you to listen without judgement and in the process of their talking they will unravel the problem for themselves. This also is why quiet contemplation is so beneficial because in the quiet, feelings, hunches, even words, which are important so do not dismiss them, will come knocking on our consciousness.

Life in many ways is a mystery and there is so much one does not understand but it is true, finding the solutions to life’s problems is an inside job with an outside manifestation of peace.

What we make of our Life is up to Us.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human.

Rule No.8 What we make of our life is up to us. We have all the tools and resources we need. What we create with those tools and resources is up to us.

We are all different and we all have different gifts and skills which we are able to develop. God has given each and every one of us enough to work with to be the best human we can possibly be. Just because we don’t have the same as someone else, does not make us inferior, it just makes us unique and isn’t that wonderful! The quote, Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken is attributed to Oscar Wilde but it is a good one to keep in front of mind. The only person you can authentically be is yourself and it is important for you to believe that you are enough.

This rule is not a cop out; it will require work. Look at the words; tools, resources, create. Tools are used to do work or cause some result. I have my garden tools but if I don’t use them and do some work with them, they are of little benefit and my garden will not be beautiful or bring pleasure. Among the dictionary meanings for resource is the means at hand afforded by the mind or personal abilities and to be resourceful is to be skillful in overcoming difficulties, full of resource, ingenious. And to create is to make, cause to exist, produce, design or invent. Each of us has the perfect measure we need to be able to live life purposefully.

Life is not a blame game, it is unwise to give your power in life away by blaming whatever it is you feel inclined to blame for your situation. So go and find your tools, realise your resources and get creating for what we make of our life is up to us.

Others are merely mirrors of you.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human.

Rule No.7 Others are merely mirrors of you. We cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something we love or hate about ourselves.

Ouch! This one hurts a little bit doesn’t it? Because it asks us to turn the focus back onto ourselves in self examination of our hearts rather than pointing a finger at others in blame and fault finding. There is that old saying about pointing the finger, when you do, one finger points towards the other person and three fingers point back at ourselves. Try in now and you will see this is the case.

It is easy to find fault but the key to being the best human you can be and also to seeing the best in others is humble self examination. One of the foundational teachings of Christian faith is to “examine yourself” and this too is a life long process; one will never come to the place where they are so good that they will not need continual self examination and correction. If you are anything like me, you will find keeping your own attitude under control is a full time job and leaves little time to pick fault in others but hopefully enough compassion to be kind to others.

There is no better than “here”.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human.

Rule No. 6 There is no better than “here”. When our “there” has become a “here”, we will simply discover another “there” that will again look better than our”here”. Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what we have.

This rule speaks to contentment in the right here and now and accepting that wherever we are, in whatever circumstances and with whatever boundaries our lives have, there is a purpose and this is for our growth. Many people waste countless years, making themselves and those around them unhappy because they will not see the blessings right under their noses and are forever chasing after something which is either unattainable or just plain not good for them.

The key word in this rule is “unattainable”. There is nothing wrong with striving to improve your situation but in my experience, situations are improved by doing the very best you possibly can exactly where you are. It’s called making the most of what you already have and being thankful for that measure. And it is amazing how when one has an attitude of gratitude how their blessings continue to abound. It is the thankful person who attracts opportunity and almost magically doors open and way leads onto way.

So right now, be thankful for your “here” and bloom where you are planted because usually the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence and if it is, it is because the folks on the other side of the fence are taking good care of their grass.

Learning lessons does not end.

The next rule in The Rules for being Human.

Rule No.5 Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as we live there will be something more to learn.

Wow! This one I love! There is nothing better than a life long learner. Good teachers encourage students to see that learning does not stop when one exits school. Much of the job is to whet a student’s appetite for learning so that learning for one’s own development becomes the focus. In fact most of life’s learning takes place as we mature. I find it a great blessing that there are so many more lessons to learn. Sure beats being bored!

Our trials, our lessons, are for our refining so that the dross of our character is burnt off to reveal something that is precious. In church, we sing a song with lyrics, He’s still working on me, to teach me what I ought to be, and I understand this to be a life long process of developing a character that is wise, loving, humble, gracious and forgiving. For myself, I am trying to learn as many lessons as possible along the way because it seems to me that old age is a great test of character and if we have not learnt some important lessons in younger years, those lessons are thrust upon us when we perhaps have the least resources to accept them and very little time left to receive the blessings from learning them.

I hope you will embrace Rule no 5 and see it as a blessing.