Brilliant – a Sign?

via Daily Prompt: Brilliant Brilliant

I’m not one of those people who believes that everything happens for a reason. However, the fact that I happened to be on Word Press today, after months of not doing anything, and see the “brilliant” prompt seems like serendipity. The word “brilliant” has been rolling around in my head for the past couple of days.

I have been trying to figure out why I am so drawn to a new person in my life. I am a happily married woman with a nice house, a beautiful daughter, and a faithful dog. I’ve been with my husband for twenty-five years, and although we’ve had our ups and downs, I’ve never been particularly attracted to another man. However, a twenty-seven year old man recently came into my life and I find myself wanting to talk to him, anticipating seeing him, and thinking about him often.

Our relationship should be purely business, but that’s not how I am. I am an emotional person, whose downfall in business has been a need for people to like me. Throughout my professional career, I have struggled with maintaining healthy boundaries and keeping business business and personal personal. I have befriended colleagues and been disappointed when my friendship has not been reciprocated. And today, I find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to keep my feelings out of my business arrangement with this young man, who is young enough to be my own child!

So what is it? Physical attraction? Maybe…Or do I identify with him? Does he remind me of past loves? Or my father? He actually came out and asked me if he reminded me of my father. That caught me off guard! But it shouldn’t have. I suppose he’s probably asking himself the same questions. If not why he’s attracted to me, then why I am attracted to him. His significant other and her family are questioning our relationship. And my husband is questioning too. Everyone thinks it should just be business! But it’s not. Which leads me back to “brilliant”.

This young man is “brilliant”– not in the traditional sense of the word. He’s not necessarily smart or gifted. In fact, I don’t even know anything about his intellectual abilities, other than the fact that he can’t read cursive (but neither can my daughter, because they don’t teach it to kids anymore). What I mean by “brilliant” is that he’s shiny. Light emanates from his soul. He’s alive. And his brilliance is contagious.

I’m dull. I’m the opposite of shiny. The extra twenty years that I have lived have worn down my finish. There is grime obscuring my soul. I need to be cleaned and buffed and shined up.

This young man wears his heart on his sleeve. He has been hurt, over and over again, yet he stands and he keeps fighting, with a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eye. He is “resilient” — the latest pop psychology term of the day. And I want that.

I’m drawn to him like a moth to light. Of course, we all know what happens to the moths that get into the house and stuck in the light fixture…But perhaps I can just touch his light and take some energy. He has enough to go around. He has already helped me see the contrast between us — recognition is the first step, right? I want to get closer to his light so I can get out of the darkness. Because I used to be like him. I was “brilliant” once.


Paid Family & Medical Leave

Jahdiel Torres-Caba, Field Organizer for the Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, and I talked a few months ago by phone about the Paid Family & Medical Leave bill that is in the NH legislature. I told him about my struggles with work after taking time to care for myself and my mom and agreed to contact my Legislators.

I received an email from him today, informing me that on this Friday, January 12th, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (doors open 1:15 p.m.), his organization will be meeting at Franklin Pierce University to discuss the importance of access to paid medical leave insurance with Representative John Hunt. The event will feature a panel of community members sharing stories and a conversation about policy solutions including House Bill 628. He thought this might be of interest so he invited me to join him. I responded to his RSVP here and submitted my story to assist in the group’s lobbying efforts. I share it with you here:

I worked full-time for a municipality for three years. Prior to that I had worked for another municipality for twelve years.  I accrued less than one sick day per month. That time was all I had for my medical appointments, my daughter’s medical appointments, and eventually my mom’s medical appointments. In addition to wellness appointments — annual physical, mammogram, dental cleanings, etc., I received treatment for high blood pressure, back pain, and depression. Needless to say, I didn’t have enough sick leave to cover it. As a result, I used up my vacation time(two weeks per year) and didn’t get to take vacations.

In February of last year, my mom fell and broke her hip. Since my brother lives in Connecticut, I was the one visiting her in the hospital and taking care of her home, her rental property, and her finances. When my mom was hospitalized, she suffered from delerium, which I learned is quite common in the elderly. Upon release from the hospital in March, she moved to a rehab center for physical and occupational therapy. Her physical condition did improve — she could walk with a walker, but her mental condition worsened. Dementia set in as the days went by.

In May, I was hospitalized due to Acute Congestive Heart Failure as a result of Atrial Fibrillation. I was cardioverted and put on medication, so I returned to work. Within days, I was back in AFib and decided to take unpaid medical leave until my condition stabilized and my mom got better. Throughout this ordeal, I experienced a lot of stress as a result of my employer’s attitude toward my absences and the financial hardship of not being paid.

In June, I brought my mom home from the rehab center to live with me and my family. Medicare only covers 100 days of rehab, and that time was up, but she was unable to live on her own due to her physical and mental condition.

In July, I had to be re-hospitalized because I was back in Acute Congestive Heart Failure. My family did the best they could to take care of mom, but the day I was released, she was readmitted to the hospital. She had been worried about me, not taking her medication, and not eating. As a result, she was in AFib.

All the while, my employer was sending me letters informing me that my twelve weeks of FMLA were almost up and asking me when I would return to work. I didn’t know what to tell them. Eventually, I got a letter saying that they would be terminating my position effective July 31.

When that happened, my health insurance was cancelled. Of course, I received COBRA paperwork, which allowed me to re-institute my coverage, for just $2,225 per month. I had to find the money. Fortunately, my mom received $1300/mo. in Social Security and had some money in savings. She said that her money was the household’s money, so we used it.

My mom passed away on December 14. Having depleted all of her funds, I am now struggling to find the money to pay for her funeral and begin administration of her estate plan. I pretty much put my own health needs on the back burner while I was caring for her, so now my focus is on determining how best to treat my condition and whether I’ll be able to return to work.

In conclusion, more sick leave and paid family and medical leave would have helped me enormously. The financial stress I have been dealing with has certainly exacerbated my physical and mental health conditions. It is worth noting that the municipality I worked for did not offer short-term disability coverage, and long-term disability coverage had a 90 day waiting period, which did not go into effect until after my termination.  I thought my job had really good benefits, but when push came to shove, they weren’t so good after all — and most private employers are worse!

Carlotta – the Early Years

When I was young, I didn’t like my name very much. I wanted to be a “Lisa” or a “Cathy” like the other girls in my class. I also wanted to be shorter and have blond hair and blue eyes. But Mother Nature made me who I am, and my mother named me Carlotta. As the story goes, my mom had a friend named Carlo and my dad had a friend named Charlotte, and they put them together to make Carlotta. There was also something about a Mexican empress named Carlotta who was married to Maximillion. She supposedly went mad and killed herself. Anyway…

I was born in the New Hampshire State capital, Concord, where my parents lived at the time. Soon after, my family moved to Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, my dad’s hometown. We lived upstairs from my grandparents, Eino and Mary Lilback, on Creamery Road. It was a drafty old farmhouse, with an attached barn, and I have very fond memories of my early years there. Except for that time I put my arm into grandpa’s wringer washer and couldn’t get it out, but that’s a whole nother story.

When I was six years old, my parents built a house on a plot of land not far from my grandparent’s house. In fact, there was a path through the woods that you could walk (or ride my grandpas’ tractor) to get to my new house. The house was a bit rustic. It was basically a cement block basement with a tar paper roof, but it was home.

I’ll never forget my parent’s housewarming party when Johnny T. showed up with a bathtub, filled with ice and beer. My brother and I peered out from our room to observe the adults laughing and playing music–something we had never witnessed at our old house. For a time, there was no running water or plumbing, so we used a bucket in lieu of a toilet. Somewhere there’s a very cute picture of me in my jammies, sitting on the bucket and smiling for the camera. I think those kind of shots are illegal now.

Over the next few years, my father worked on building a house on top of the foundation. He would buy a little bit of lumber each week and frame out what he could until the next week’s paycheck. In some romantic way, it was homesteading at its finest.

Our house had frontage on Webb Hill Road, a dead-end dirt road that ran almost parallel to Creamery Road, where my grandparents lived. Our next door neighbors, the Gs, became friends with my parents, despite the fact that they were a little “hippyish” compared to my folks. Years later, they started a family and when I was 12, they offered me my first baby-sitting job–watching their daughter while their band practiced in the barn across the street.

My family lived a pretty simple life in that house. It was the 70s, and we were pretty poor. My dad worked as a school bus mechanic, and my mom drove the school bus. Sometimes, my brother and I would go on her bus route with her. When I was four, I attended pre-school on the first floor of the Town Hall. They had this great table filled with sand and water; easels for painting; and a really cool treasure chest for dress-up. I also attended kindergarten there before moving to the “big school”, Emerson Elementary School.

I cried my first day of first grade. I didn’t want to go, but my mom assured me she’d stand in the back of the classroom and be there if I needed her. Mrs. Crowder took my hand and led me to my desk and the next time I checked, my mom was gone(imagine, the nerve!). When my daughter attended Emerson over thirty years later, Mrs. Crowder was still there. One day, she bounced the ball to my daughter and said, “Carlotta, that’s for you!” My daughter was indignant. She replied, “I’m not Carlotta. That’s my mom! I’m Carmen!”

I enjoyed my years at Emerson, moving to Miss McCulla’s class in second grade, Miss Killeen’s class in third, Mrs. Drake’s class in fourth, Miss Quinn’s class in fifth, and Mr. Payton’s class in sixth grade. My brother was two years behind me. We were both very good students and were in the gifted program.  I won the school spelling bee my final year at Emerson, and my brother was runner-up. Unfortunately, I lost the Regional competition held at the Elk’s Club in Keene by misspelling “height”. I had psyched myself into believing it was “hight”. I’ll never forget that word!



For My Teenage Daughter

Comedian and Podcaster Paul Gilmartin shares 15 tips for teenagers and the adults who love them. ____ Comedian and Podcaster Paul Gilmartin was asked by someone to give his life tips for teenagers. Paul is not an expert on parenting, but he shares his tips in the 15 points below. He shares what would have helped when […]

via Teenagers, We Want You To Know That Nobody Has It All Figured Out — smswaby

Trying Again

All right, so I tried to start a blog and failed. Well I’m not going to be just another statistic. Twelve days into 2017 and I feel inspired to try again. I think my original intention was good. Frankly, I found the Word Press application clunky. Or maybe I’m just getting old, and no longer have the patience to learn new technology. Could be….However, I chose a new style and it fixed my problem! I’m still not entirely sure why there is a picture if my dog in the menu on the left of my screen. But oh well… He’s a good boy! I don’t mind seeing him if you don’t. (Do you see him?)

So…what to write about….Well, since I’m at work now, I think I have a legitimate excuse to put off writing(for now). I will bask in my small success, finish my work, and leave this place in exactly 13 minutes. Tonight is my daughter’s play/musical and I’m looking forward to seeing her perform. Maybe that’s what I can write about…

Summer Fun

I took my daughter and her two friends to Laurel Lake, the same lake where my friends and I swam when we were their age. The rock that’s sticking out is one of many that parents and kids use as benchmarks in their swimming progress. As you can see, the water is not very deep there, but when you get out to “Turtle Rock” it can be over your head, depending on the lake level. “Table Rock” is like graduation for most kids.