Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Calm of Order

Today was a day of realigning my brain. I have been out of order, so I had to adjust my mind to normal.

I started by an uplifting visit to my son's school. I saw great friends, helped out with a newsletter, talked about projects, and generally felt the love. No matter how yucky I feel, I can be cheered up by a visit to Carolina School for Inquiry.

So with a cheery attitude, I drove to work. I found that some of my clients had brought me documents I've been needing for about 6 months. Bless them, I was able to whip out 6 months of bookwork in 20 minutes in one case and a couple of hours in another. That feels good, even if I know I did most of it months ago. I could complete the month, print the reports, copy, file. It is complete. It is orderly.

The routine tasks have helped me rejuvenate in a way I don't usually expect. It reestablished the patterns and my mind was able to settle down. Now I am ready for the big things. Maybe. Tomorrow. Today I am serene.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back to normal... sort of

Here I am, back at work. Things have waited for me, which I guess means they miss me. Since I spent the morning in a meeting, I still haven't sat down and figured out what I need to do today, this week, this month...

What do I need to do, here and at home? I am not over committed, I'm just temporarily underorganized. I think I'll spend a little time this afternoon organizing my brain. Things to do: call the lady about the fundraiser this fall, study for the final part of the SEE, help Joseph fix my computers, clean my house, clean the shed, plant bushes and trees, paint Gabe's rocking chair, finish Gabe's blanket, call the charter school people about the new school...

I think I'd better get back to work.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

Let me talk about plans. I had lots of plans for last week. Nothing really big, mostly getting through the little things that back up. And then, my grandson and both his parents ended up in the hospital with viral meningitis.

Viral meningitis is not as bad as bacterial, in that it won't kill you, probably. It causes a fever and a headache so bad you think you are dead and in hell already. Because it takes 48 hours to be sure it's not bacterial meningitis, which will kill you, the doctors gave them antibiotics. One doctor said, in front of my 9 year old who was also getting checked, that it probably wasn't bacterial or they'd all be dead. Somehow, this wasn't as calming to Mark as the doctor seemed to think it would be. Go figure.

With his parents in other parts of the hospital (36 hours in the emergency room for Dad & about 24 hours in the emergency room and another 24 in a private room for Mom), GrandBob and I had to stay with Gabe in his room. We were glad to take care of him, of course. Our bosses and co-workers were understanding and supportive. We revisited our belief that cable tv is over-rated, although we did enjoy a couple of Hitchcock movies.

Everyone is ok now. Gabe is all better. Mom Katy is feeling somewhat better. Dad Robert went through a worse time after he got out of the hospital, but had some serious medication and survived.

Uncle Joe, my other son, is sick at home now. He had been checked out and diagnosed with "flu-like symptoms." I think maybe it was early in the meningitis, or maybe not. He's taking extra strength ibuprofen and lots of fluids. I'm not taking him back to the emergency room. Did I mention it cost $125 with insurance for the doctor to scare Mark and say he wasn't sick? Did I mention Robert doesn't have insurance or medicaid or anything? Joseph is still covered, and if I thought they could do anything I'd take him in. Right now, I'm pretty sure it's viral something. If it weren't he'd be dead. That's what the doctor said, and we always trust the doctors, right?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Gift of Taking

Stephen Covey suggested in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People that human development should go through three phases: dependence, independence, and interdependence. This makes a lot of sense to me. Children are naturally dependent, and we help them grow into independent people who can take care of themselves, and eventually other people.

What I see around me now, though, is many people who aren't comfortable in the interdependence phase. They are often care-givers, but they won't let other people care for them. I suppose there are many reasons that people feel that they should give help to everyone around them, but shouldn't ask for help in return. For some, it is the belief they aren't worthy of help & they don't want to bother others. For some, it is a fear of giving up power and personal control. For some, it's plain old martyrdom.

Fortunately, I don't have close contact with many martyrs. When I see a one, I tend to say "Get off the cross, we need the wood," and they rarely if ever take kindly to that. I do have contact with people who won't give up their power and personal control. I don't think I'll go there today.

The people I care about who are great care-givers, but won't accept help, are loving, kind people. It is their "job" to take care of everything --- family, friends, pets --- and they don't ask for help. When they were told "it's better to give than receive," they believed it with a vengeance.

Often we don't offer to help these powerhouses, because we have gotten in the habit of taking from the givers and we don't think to ask how they are holding up. We may know from experience they won't let us help. But that should change.

And so I ask the care-givers to do me one great big favor. I know it is scary, but please, let us help. It is a sign of trust to allow someone to help you. It is a gift of faith and friendship. It is a kindness.

I know it's hard to ask for help when you know you can do it all, but PLEASE, let us help you.
You need to fill your heart and soul before you can share. You can't keep giving without refilling.
Interdependence goes both ways. Thank you for helping me. Now do me a favor and sit down while I cook dinner.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Really Bad Stinky No Good Week

OK, first of all, I didn't pass the stupid test. I knew I wasn't going to pass because (DUH!) I didn't study. I didn't study because I had a yucky week that I'm not going to talk about. When I was taking the test, a 100 question computerized exam, I kept thinking, why am I bothering? I'm going to fail. $97 down the tubes and for what?

But then I'd hear my son Mark's voice. When I hugged him goodbye that morning, in a really bad mood, he'd said, "Take the test with all of your heart, mind, strength and ability."

So when the questions started to run together, I'd take a deep breath, draw on what I did know and answer to the best of my knowledge. When I was really lost (I was told there would be no Trust), I tried to remember the issue I didn't understand so I can go back and study again.

I will study more, and I will acknowledge that I knew there would be questions about trusts, and I will be a better accountant and tax preparer. If I ever have to handle the dissolution of a closely held corporation, I will know where to look in the tax publications. Next time I will pass.

Because I remember the other thing Mark said: "Always fail successfully."

(And thank you, Mr. Chris, for teaching him that.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Change

September doesn't usually mean much to me in the way of change. School starts in the middle of August. Usually, the heat and humidity will last until October. I don't care about the start of football season.

But this September seems to be bringing a freshness I didn't expect. After a summer of oppressive heat, waiting for the rain, waiting for the baby, waiting for my family's lives to take their respective upturns, September has come in cool and hopeful.

I suppose that sounds strange to most people. In most places, it is the long winter than freezes people's hearts and makes them wish for the spring thaw. Here, in SC, the summer is stultifying. By the middle of August, we wonder if we will ever breath again. Every year, I think about One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which they have a year of rain and everything and everyone is covered in algae or mildew. Even with a drought, that is what it is like in Columbia every summer. Sticky and mildewy and hot. Swimming pools are as warm as bathtubs. Ice melts in the freezer. The air conditioner runs full blast and barely gets the house to 90 degrees.

And then on August 31 the high was 89. I am always shocked by the difference between 89 and 98. I felt a breeze. There was no humidity, so "85" felt like "85". I walked around the yard and saw my poor neglected yard. I lay in the hammock and read. Believe me, it is much worse to neglect a hammock than a yard.

I feel renewed and ready for changes. I will plant the bushes in the butterfly garden after the heat and before the cold. Clean my house, paint Mark's room, sort the junk in the shed and have a yard sale. I can already feel the energy returning. Fall is here. At least for this weekend.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Special Enrollment Examination

Friday morning, I passed the first section of the Special Enrollment Exam (SEE) required to become an enrolled agent with the IRS. If I pass all three parts and complete the ethics check and some other forms, I will be able to speak for people to the IRS. I'm not sure I want to talk to the IRS, but I want to know I can pass this test.

The first part in on Individual taxation, which includes trusts, estates, annuities & IRAs. I'm glad to get through it and am ready to move on to Business taxes. A couple of years ago, I took the exam and passed the section on corporate taxes, but this test will include partnerships, which I didn't pass. And so I will spend the next week reading about partnerships, reviewing corporated tax rules and thinking happy thoughts. I'll take part two this Friday and part three the next Friday. Part three is ethics and stuff, which I hope I understand.

As far as posts go, this is terribly boring, but it is what is on my mind right now. Overshadowing baby Gabe, who with his parents, is staying with us this week. Overshadowing the charter middle school we are developing. Overshadowing the house that needs to be cleaned, the yard that needs to be mowed and the garden that needs to be prepared. Overshadowing the blog that wants to be written.

And on we go...