Like Sands through the Hourglass

Boom.

Just like that, two months raced away, I’ve completed another certification, and we’re preparing for Christmas. The days of our lives, indeed.

I’ve started along the path toward my CPCU designation. I keep telling myself—it’s my mantra—it’s just two more really hard years, then I’ll be done. This madness is all my doing…my fault for pursuing a designation that only 5% of insurance professionals have been crazy enough to complete.

Insurance is a field that I only fell into. I did not grow up with dreams of becoming an insurance whosit or whatsit, but I was extremely fortunate to land a job with a good company at a time when I desperately needed health benefits. Six weeks into my employment, all of my little symptoms colluded and landed me in the hospital for a week. A lot of specialists and several surgeries later, I’m beyond grateful that on top of feeling lousy and being face-planted in my own mortality, I had health insurance. I never had to make the choice between keeping a roof over my head or a meal on the table and receiving medical care. In the season of thanksgiving and miracles, I reflect that this was one of mine.

How can I possibly put into words the gift of that ONE THING I didn’t have to worry about? I’m not sure how a person expresses thanks for something like that. The thing is, I so desperately want to make that gift worth it. I may not have chosen the insurance industry for myself, but I want to grow and give back to the company that gave a little peace of mind to an employee it barely knew just because it was the decent thing to do.

As noble as my intentions are, they are not without sacrifice. I struggle to accept that free time = study time in my new reality, but I could not do this without someone to pick up the slack at home. Nick is so good to me…so supportive and understanding…yet another miracle in my pocket. Given the deck stacked against me, it’s interesting that I should feel so grateful…but it’s truer than a songbird on a spring morning or lightning bugs paining a summer twilight. It is a wonder that never fades.

“Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles.” (Mike Greenberg)

NOTICE THEM.

Now you’re just some bunny that I used to know.

I have some weightier things on my mind that I may want to address another time when my thoughts are a bit more organized…but for now, I’d like to discuss something that makes me feel old and cranky: RABBITS.

Building a home on the edge of a conservancy, our landscape architect chose our shrubs and perennials deliberately—the builders and landscapers all witnessed the deer nonchalantly trespassing across the lawn after all. The one plant that isn’t critter resistant is a plant that has survived unscathed for two seasons. The assumption must have been that since it was so close to the house and behind some shrubs, the deer wouldn’t care to get that close (and the DEER haven’t).

It’s our clematis. Our lovely climbing purple flower that we built a trellis for and that grew so lush last year. The trellis is large, so we bought more plants this spring to make it pop. They were doing so, so well after I planted them. 

Bunnies: 1, Clematis: 0

 

One day, I noticed that one of the plants looked brownish and wilted. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the vine had been severed at about an inch above the dirt. I wasn’t sure what caused it…I assumed it was innocent though and another green shoot was already visible. A couple weeks after that, I noticed that ALL the vines on the trellis were dying…all severed in the same fashion.

Bunnies: 1, Clematis: 0 Bunnies: 1, Clematis: 0

 

Either there was a passive-aggressive monster in the neighborhood or something more sinister. (Spoiler: it was the second.)

Around that time, Nick took a Live Photo of some “cute” neighborhood residents.

Everything just CLICKED. (I realize I’m using a lot of random capitalization in this post, but I’m SO STEAMED!) I also have two flower beds for annuals, and I thought the petunias I planted in one of them were slow to get going. NOPE. They were just chewed down to the ground.

Suddenly I became the crotchety woman who can’t stand dem der varmints! At a loss what to do, I tried liquid fence products, homemade repellent recipes, and ultrasonic devices. I had a few small sunflower bird feeders that I used as cages over the stumps of the clematis that remained. The little jerks dug out the roots on the two plants on either end of the trellis and feasted on all that remained of the plant. For whatever reason, they did not dig out the root on the center plant.

I was venting about these happenings in the car on the way home from work when Nick told me something like, “I think you’re missing the bright side of all this.” To my confused silence he continued, “We’re raising a family of well-fed bunnies!” Believe it or not, he’s still breathing.

Because the center plant had such a little-engine-that-could-ness about it, it was starting to shoot out of the makeshift cage. I knew I had to remove the cage soon or I wouldn’t be able to untangle the shoots without damaging the plant.

Out of options (because I refuse to border my house with decoy owls as the interwebs suggested), Nick and I set out to buy some materials to fence off the base of the trellis. I remember stomping through Home Depot with him, steam practically coming out of my ears on a day with a heat index in triple digits. He asked cautiously, “Do you know what you’re looking to buy here?”

“Yup,” I clipped out. “I’m gonna build a wall, and I’m gonna make the bunnies pay for it.” I can’t be sure, but I think he may have rolled his eyes…but man I was FRUSTRATED!

We arrived home…hottest day of the year, so hottest evening of the year, and we began to dig a trench to bury chicken wire around the trellis. As reinforcements, we surrounded the fence with rocks to make digging even less attractive to our family of well-fed bunnies.

Flower Power

 

The surviving clematis is growing steadily, but so small for this time of year. I peek at her regularly to offer words of encouragement…clearly she is the chosen one.

One last thing…when I stepped near to take that last photograph, an itty bitty bunny scampered away from under the shrubs. I was torn. I wanted to be so angry that they had not vacated yet…but holy moly, they ARE pretty adorable.

Cuteness will get you off every time, it’s true. *sigh*

Hear Me

I’ve been having a lot of imaginary conversations lately. I’ve given the shower walls a good talking to several times in the past week…I think it knows its place now.

I’m a characteristic introvert you see, replaying scenes in my head, imagining things I think I wish I would have said. I am in control of the image I portray…living is the role of a lifetime, after all.

I don’t know if it helps me or hurts me that my most heavily-weighted MI component is intrapersonal (followed closely by interpersonal), but it certainly factors into my performance on this stage. I strive to be moderate in the face of conflict, but every now and then I imagine the feeling of euphoria one must feel in saying exactly what your temper wants you to say in the heat of the moment.

Unfortunately, I know myself well enough to know that self-loathing would soon follow. Words have power, and like gunfire, the damage cannot be undone once the ammunition hits its mark. Are you prepared to live with that gaping hole on your conscience? Are you?

I’m not.

It’s frustrating that I know I’m not, yet I have these fantasies of what it must feel like to not care about other people’s feelings after you’ve thrown your dagger, to not feel remorse.

I don’t plan on changing my modus operandi; I know I’m protecting my long-term sense of self. It’s that instant gratification center in my brain that is getting tired of my “make love not war” BS.

I have listened to many people in my age group claim that they are done playing “Captain Please-Everyone” or trying to be someone who they are not. Maybe this is the source of my unrest. I’m still working on that contentious voice inside. While I haven’t found an answer yet, I think I have to stop rehashing in the shower if I want to maintain any sort of healthy relationship with it.

I haven’t given the closet a piece of my mind yet though.

Two Down, Nine to Go

I passed my second test…[and the crowd goes wild…ahhhhh!]

The books and notes from the first two courses have been shelved ceremoniously as is befitting my longstanding capriciousness.

Office...
 

I remember being a child and thinking that one day there would be a finish line with my education. Bah! Silly little girl! Nope. We never stop learning. Our brains aren’t wired that way…they keep right on sponging away, no matter how much of a blockhead we fully intend to be.

A few years ago, I decided to pursue some insurance-industry certifications instead of completing the MBA program (at least for my next endeavor). The certifications are self-study in preparation for an exam at an official test location. Yes, I decided on this direction a few years ago. I started at the end of last year…hah!

Because I’m a total spreadsheet nerd, I mapped out different paths of classes needed to complete the initial three designations on my wish list, determining which combinations of classes would complete the task most economically. No matter which way I sliced and diced it, I came out at 11.

It’s testing me (no pun intended). I’m on thought-dulling pain medication around-the-clock. Somedays I feel like I’m running on a treadmill in effort to reach the end of the block. This in part explains the time gap between the deciding and the doing in this little venture…I knew I would have to work twice as hard to accomplish what used to come so very easily to me. Never take your mind for granted, folks.

Anyway, if I can keep the passing streak alive, the spreadsheet has me finishing sometime in 2019. The books for the next course arrived, but I gave myself until after The Trifecta before losing myself to the process again.

At least the office is getting more use now.

Office...