Saturday, December 30, 2006

Healthy Cookies

Most of us have thoroughly experienced the abundance of being gifted at Christmas (or other December holidays--whatever you celebrate), and we've probably consumed more sugar than we usually would, at least we have at our house. Mostly. My oldest son, Spencer (decked out in a three-piece suit he purchased by himself for a recent high school band concert), made a new version for us this year of our annual Santa's Whiskers cookies when I had too much to do and he offered to help. He followed the recipe, sort of. I was off doing something else and when it was time to add the flour, he grabbed what he thought was a jar of flour. Turns out he grabbed an unlabelled glass jar of 7-grain organic pancake mix--close, but not quite. The label fell off the jar last month and I hadn't replaced it yet, but no need to ask a question to make sure. Never mind that there were two full jars of flour--with labels--nearby. When it came time to add the vanilla, since it's an old recipe that's been smeared some over the years, he thought it read 2 T. instead of 2 t. A big difference in a Very Vanilla sort of way. He used half the sugar the original recipe called for, which is what I always do when I bake (that's my boy), but combined with the ultra-grainy Very Vanilla pancake mix flour, the cookie dough tasted nothing like they're supposed to and looked, as my husband put it, "too healthy." We haven't baked them yet, they're still in the freezer. Perhaps the dogs will think they're great dog biscuits and be enticed to come in at night for their yummy reward. Perhaps if Colorado will send some snow our way, we'll make a fresh batch of re-named Snowstorm cookies. [Disclaimer: To his credit, Spencer has baked cookies many times before this episode and they've been very delicious.]

End of the Year Thoughts...

The month of December--in fact, the whole darn year--has flown by. Yours probably, too. I had great intentions of writing blog posts throughout this month, but obligations and commitments (seasonal and the ordinary) got in the way. (No resolutions, but I aim to blog more frequently next year.) One of my many tasks as foster care provider is writing a quarterly report for Medicaid, the next is due January 1. This meant putting together the report this past week, when I'd rather relax and enjoy the peaceful days following Christmas. Job priorities came first. Still, there have been some quiet moments to reflect and to share hopeful conversations about the coming year with my husband over a glass of red wine (what else?)

During a few phone conversations over the holidays, I noticed it was a bit different this year. Since I no longer own and operate a mortgage business (see November posts), that topic of conversation has ceased to exist, especially for relatives whom I speak to infrequently. No polite questions about how my loans are going, how business has been, or thoughts on the housing market in general. My current job as a care provider is almost too weird for people to ask about, reminding me of when we moved to Floyd the summer of 1999. Family members latched onto the fact that Floyd is a one stoplight town (that's it in the photo). They asked the same questions "Is there a grocery store?," "Where will you work?," or "Why do you want to live there?" It's no different now--only people aren't sure what to ask about this strange and wonderful job I have taking care of a live-in client, so they ask "How is it going?" or nothing at all.

How many of us have had a job that defined who we were or became our identity, at least in part? That is what happened with me in the mortgage business. I had a job as a mortgage broker, but it wasn't who I was. Yet 90% of the conversations I had with people in town or with family started with "How's business?" or "What are rates doing?" I know they meant well, but it always bothered me. Thankfully, I'm still me under the care provider hat. It's the only job I've had where I feel like my title isn't stamped on my forehead. Since shedding the mortgage broker skin I'm rediscovering who I am, and as corny as this will sound, I'm settling into being myself. This coupled with a light-bulb-on-over-the-head realization that I continued to evolve during my decade as a mortgage broker--despite it all.

I love this time of year...welcoming a fresh start full of hope and promise. Interesting and exhilirating discoveries lie ahead. I hope you are as ready as I am. Ready for snow and all things good, from Floyd County....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

It's Really Closed!

Okay gang, I finally did it. I strode into the phone company yesterday, paid my bill and sat down with a Customer Service rep who closed my account on the spot. I thought I had completely let it go, but found myself telling the woman why I was, in essence, closing my business. Nothing like disconnecting the phone to make it 100% officially Closed. It might be illegal to feel this relieved.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Not Open for Business

When one door shuts another one opens, so the saying goes. I am closing my mortgage business of 6 1/2 years. Well, almost closed. My husband reminds me that I haven't called the phone company to turn off the phone, so it's 97% closed. But mentally, it's a closed book, my latest "Been there, done that." I'm sharing my news with the community. Last week I called my parent company to inform them of my decision, but they “graciously” said they'd keep my license current; in case one came across my desk that I wanted to do. They aren’t doing me any favors but I didn't have the heart at the time to make my statement Final, now I'm ready to call back. Thanks, but no thanks. Friends in the industry have long told me I'd never quit, but they never understood that it was just a job. A year ago my parent company, with whom I’d worked for five years, quit doing loans for homes on more than five acres. That was the beginning of the end. There were days when I thought my head would pop off.

I didn't like the direction the industry went the last several years. I thought ARMs (adjustable rate mortgage), Option ARMs and Interest Only loans were wrong for most consumers and only did one ARM loan for a Borrower. Period. Next year a million ARM loans will be reset to reflect today's interest rates and we may have interesting results...but I’ll step off my soap box.

Three years ago I decided to become a Foster Care Provider for Wall Residences, LLC. We built an addition to our home in 2004 and my husband and I took classes to be licensed. I provide training and support for an adult with a physical and/or intellectual disability. When our first client moved in August 2005, I initially thought my mortgage business would close by year end. We quickly learned the importance of the right match--and were thankful when our client was relocated in October, six weeks later. I made a half-hearted attempt to plod on; I advertised and told everyone that I was still doing loans, but I was miserable. My negative energy must have transferred to my business because I had a slow year.

Our next client moved in last June. We had met him prior to meeting the client-that-didn't- work-out and felt instinctively that he was the one, but then had to wait until he was ready. We are several months into a positive, long-term working relationship. This job is far more rewarding to me than doing mortgage loans was and it’s a step in the right direction--to soothe my soul. It doesn't hurt that I earn a monthly paycheck--which is a welcome breath of fresh air.
I’m settling into and accepting my decision to close my business. More than anything, I feel relief. I’m moving forward. I don't know when the next open door will appear; but I'm older and wiser--let's hope--and have finally learned that it's time I pursue my deepest interests while I also allow myself to just "be," an important part of the process and a bit new to me. One day down the road I may start a new business, but as of October 31, 2006, the Mortgage Broker door is shut. Closed. Finis. I'm not open for business. Wahoo!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I believe Floyd Landis

I believe in Floyd Landis, the 2006 Tour de France champion. I can neither substantiate nor prove why I believe he is innocent of the doping charges, but I believe he is telling the truth--he did not use testosterone. I'm going with gut instinct based on watching his strong performance throughout the entire Tour de France, most especially after he fought back and persistently pushed forward during Stage 17 and raced up the final mountain, the Col de Joux-Plane. It was after he ran out of gas during Stage 16 and slipped to 11th place. All information I could find stated that Floyd Landis has never before tested positive in countless drug tests, he always surrounds himself with 'clean' athletes, and last but not least, there is the thing about his character as a Mennonite. I am hopeful that my gut instinct is correct.

Monday, September 04, 2006

In Search of My Niche

This is my first post. I've been thinking about starting a blog for some time, but got stuck coming up with a name. You sail along creating the blog and then you're asked for a name. I didn't have one. No catchy title, no real theme and using my full name presents a problem, so there I sat. What name? This wasn't going to be a blog that revolved around a single subject, despite everything experts say about successful blogs being focused, single subject blogs.

What to call my blog? Everything Blue Ridge Mountain related was taken and as the title suggests, I don't have a niche. I have a scattered, unfocused life (for now), and though I'm making progress on my path towards future career passions (call me a late bloomer), that's a subject for another day. It was my husband, Scott, who came up with "In Search of My Niche," but I didn't fill out the form correctly, got interrupted--and another month went by. Meanwhile, my husband beat me to it and began his blog--darn him!

I'm not sure if DCRW will be a keeper, but it gets me out of my rut and allows me to begin. Here's to starting something new, to be celebrated shortly with a few nibbles of dark chocolate on this chilly, rainy Labor Day, and followed by a glass of red wine later this evening. It's my comfort, my therapy, at the end of 'one of those days' and propels me further on my path in search of my niche.