So it's been a lil over a 3 months since I left my job and *HA* I miss it. Yes, I have to admit as I gazed up at the my ceiling to gather my daily tasks I was a bit bothered that I have no where to go until 2:24pm today when I have to get lilo man.
Laying there recalling the good times always seems to fuzz the reality of why I'm not there anymore- early meetings filled with friendly chit chat among co-workers sharing our woes of the job munching on someone's kind donation of bagels and cream cheese sipping on office-issued coffee and bulk powdered creamer. I shared cute little stories of the disheartened lil girls and boys, who called me Mrs. MaRia, that came into my office to tell me just how hurt their little feelings were when one of my staff or another lilo one said something a little too harsh to the bitter reality I had assumed.
I was Mrs. MaRia- Choir Director (LOL really I was a Program Director) to an After School Program (ASP) for children with behavior "issues, challanges, problems". I had the complete and utter honor of helping children I truly bonded with for 2 years before I hit Burn OUT (we'll get to that part). My primary goal- make this program SUCCESFUL! Both as a business and a service.
I assumed my duties under very little knowledge now that I think of it. During my interview I was told I just had to sign time sheets and make sure the place didn't burn down and that sounded like cake! At the time I wanted CAKE- I had just come left a former post as Director of a Boys and Girls program which I helped build from ground up. What I really walked into was a complete meltdown of super-vision- get it?! My program had no vision. Upon arrival my program looked like this- We took up to 25 kids at a time with behavioral problems that got them kicked out of "normal" ASP's, classrooms, foster homes, and sometimes all of thee above and we babysat. I got hired during the summer program and kids attended from 8 am to 5 pm daily. I had a staff of 12- who made prepackaged meals for breakfast, lunch, and snack and pretty much just herded sheep. I no way am I trying to say that any of this was my staffs' fault or mistreatment of these kids- they just didn't know any better. They just didn't have a vision or if they did it probably seemed or they were told it was unobtainable- so they made the meals, read a book or two, showed two movies a day, and played outside. It was daycare- a far cry from what I had assumed and invisioned this program to be based on description.
On the administration part of my position- No ONE and I do mean No One knew what my program was, where it was located, or why it even existed. The only people who knew of my program were those who punched and followed the budget number game. My program above all others exceeded in bringing in the MULA.CHEDDAR.MONEY. All of our kids were paying clients by the 15 min incriment to attend because it was "theraputic". Yes- they all attended from 8 am to 5 pm which equals 36 billable and payable dollars!!! Oh and I should paint a picture of our facility- we had used everything. 2nd hand this and 4th hand that all housed on an ole ranch style farm looking acre of land in the desert of Mesa. Every change I recommeded or forced was questioned by everyone- "why are purchasing this", "why are we changing this", "I didn't know we had procedures", and my favorite "you can do that?". I walked into a complete mess! I could have totally turned my head and shrugged- played along, nodded yes to everything, slyly turned in require paperwork, punched in and out from 8 to 5, and went on my merry way BUT we all know I'm MaRia and making things difficult during injustice is my game.
I spent day and night for the next year dedicated to turning my program around. It was in no way easy. I had complete opposition from all of my staff in the beginning, unknowledgable superiors, and a sheepish boss. I probably got called every bad name in the book from the ring leader- LOL my Lead Staff. He and I- swear to gosh darn it- battled on just about anything and everything for the first year. Anything and everything I directed was either done too late or never and I was forced to hold stern staff meetings, 18 suspensions, and even a couple terminations... throwing weight is not my game so it absolutely SUCKED!! Slowly but surely we got there though. For one of the few blessed times in my life- I let my actions speak for ME. 2 years later- my program became theraputic and just what I had hoped for. We offered in house therapy programs, art therapy, play therapy, family outreach and education classes, broadened our view across the company and East Valley and even offered FIELD TRIPS and NUTRITONAL FOOD! My staff fell in line and love with the program- sometimes buring out their little hearts and over zelously trying to do this and that beyond- and it was amazing. I exceeded all budget projections, became the youngest Regional Director in company history, and my program was awared the annaul excellence award. But in the bliss- I felt it was my time to depart. The day after we were awarded to be precise I decieded to hand in my 2 weeks- what I had been fately choosen to do or complete had be done and I was exhausted. All the late nights, missed soccer games, missed date nights, invisible early morning departures, and late sobbs became too much for me to handle and I threw in the towel. My drive was the challange and with out that it just didn't seem worth what I was giving up... My son, my husband, my family, and my creativity. I left on December 11- the day before my 27th birthday and my favorite field trip that I always ensured we did.. Zoolights! It was hard, tearful, and breath taking (lol).
Anyway here I am today cleaning my house in my slacks and heels from time to time, asking my girlfriends to lunch to mimic lunch meetings, and dressing all up to shop in Chandler just to feel that like that "Career Woman" again. LOL When does life ever feel balanaced? Funny how everything in life becomes a choice- to do or not to do. In the minutes it takes me to think of all the jobs I left to where I am now I have to say that I am still confused as to what it is I would love to do. I've loved all my jobs and what I've brought to the programs I've had the honor of directing but still in the back of my mind there is always doubt that I want something different. Am I destined to always wonder from job to job? Job Hermit? Creatively maybe each job is a piece of art work that merely gets completed and I move on. Realistically maybe I'm finally seeing that the "program" I've dreamt of Directing and Creating is closer and pushing its way out into the world for me to give birth to. *smile*
Love is real. I have truly loved and this is how I know...
It has been 2 months and 5 days since my dad has left and in no way has it gotten any easier. I find myself wanting to call him almost daily- actually picking up the phone, dialing the first few numbers, seeing his name pop up in the caller id and i realize no one will be on the other end. I hit the red phone button to exit and i feel what i can only describe as heartbreak.
A huge rolling lump rises from the pit of my stomach and becomes lodged next to my heart because it has grown so much since he left this Earth. All air leaves my lungs and I feel captured in time- not past, not future, not present. An ache comes over my chest because instinctively I should inhale but I can't. All I feel is a wrinkle at my brow, a quiver on my cupid's bow and a small whimper creeps from the back of my throat..I'm alone. I want to fall to ground but I become so angry at my frustration that I can not change what has happened that I stand in despair. He is gone and there is nothing- NOTHING- I can do to change my situation, the circumstance, our reality. I want him here- I want to feel him near- why am I so filled with fear! My eyelids can't damn! these tears and they begin to overflow my eyes so much that I am visually blurred- an ironic reality to what i feel inside...hazed. I am heart broken. Only this time- my love isn't returning, coming back for me. He is gone and I am here.
A small but warm light begins to light my clouded thoughts and I remember...
our last father, daughter moment. I laid my right cheek on his left hand, as he laid there engulfed in sheets and blankets. He lifted his hand and began stroking my head. Forehead to pony tail- "Dad, I love you too" "Please just let us have this moment forever" I promised....everything.
He loved me too and in those last few precious moments of life on this Earth together I learned true gratuity and pride. I gave my father all my love and he, he gave me his life.
In the last few weeks of my father's life I had finally done something right by him and more importantly, I showed him I was a Big Girl. I the little girl he prayed for grew into the woman he worked for. Everything I felt I acted on because it was as though he was telling me what to do- it was the roots he had instilled helping me be strong enough to carry us both through to the end.
My father died at 51 from Cancer. We had no idea my father had cancer. He was admitted for pneumonia which was later diagnosed as a complication from stage 5 cancer of the abdominal. He was my father, a husband, a lover, provider, grandfather, giver, comic, humble, Dine', proud, Native American, honest, realist, sports fanatic, gambling, human man.
Love is Real...I know because I am heart broken. Through the broken pieces I feel the warmth of his memory and the happiness he still brings me from his presence in my life as my father.