The Endurance of Wild Flowers

A year ago today, I was fired.

Despite what all of the experts on LinkedIn say, this is not something easily managed. It is a stain that refuses to be cleaned. I still can’t write those words without feeling the pain and humiliation of that day rise up like bile in the back of my mouth.

Why was I fired? I am glad you asked. I was on vacation when I got the call and while I know that I was fired for retaliation, when asked directly for the reason for my termination, they refused to give one. This is perfectly legal in a “Right to Work” state like mine.

I will say only this: in deeply disturbing circumstances, I am proud of how I handled myself. I left that organization knowing that in all my interactions and in all of my words and deeds, I conducted myself with honesty and grace. My integrity is intact.

That being said, to say that this last year has been devastating is like saying the ocean is immense. I remain unemployed despite a severance agreement that guarantees positive reference language. I have applied for well over 100 jobs and have had dozens of interviews but no offers. The pain of this level of rejection and the self doubt it has bred has been, at times, crippling. As a result I am financially ruined for the foreseeable future and have suffered from serious bouts of anxiety and depression.

And yet.

I have come to see this awful experience as something more than a an unmitigated disaster. Strange as it may sound, my faith is more unshakable today than it was 13 months ago. I have been brought low, deep in the valley of the shadow, and I am still here.

My family, especially my parents, have been rock solid. My father is still my guardian and I could not love him more. Few friends know of my plight but I am so grateful for the support of the ones that do and who have supported and encouraged me.

Opportunities have arisen that would not have but for me getting the sack. As a result, I love my community all the more because I know her so much better!

And, once again, I can look myself in the eye and know that I did the right thing. I stood strong in my values, I did not take the easy road. I did not abandon doing what was right for what was expedient. I passed The Test.

Actually, I have passed many tests, none more important than staying rooted in my faith despite the length of time of this ordeal. I have never once been angry at God. Never once have I insisted that he prove His love by ensuring my gainful employment or that he reward me for making me and my family suffer for such a long time.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad of it.”

Yes. Yes. Yes! There is still food to eat and miraculously, the lights are still on. There are people to love and children to raise. The sun shines. And the wild flowers, despite heat and draught and the lack of a manicured garden, are glorious.

I am a Wild Flower. I endure much, do without more, and in spite of everything, all is right with my soul. This is where true beauty is cultivated and this garden is bountiful.

It is a glorious world and I am blessed to be in it. So today, Day 366 of my Great Trial, I rejoice and give thanks and know deeply, intuitively, impossibly, that all will be well.

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On Birthday Magic and the Origins of Family

Today my sister would be celebrating her 50th birthday. 50! And my dad is celebrating his birthday, too. The date is intermingled – an event that was always a dual celebration in our house. I thought it was a special kind of magic that two people not related by blood would share such an important date. It’s like they were destined to be family.

This may surprise some people who know my family – my dad is not Aimee’s genetic father. Dad met my mom in Christchurch, New Zealand when Aimee was but a year old and adopted her when she was…Maybe 6? These things took a while back in the day. I know that my dad, in his inimitable way, decided to marry my mom within days of meeting her and that my mom, badass that she was, made no bones about the fact that she was a proud single mom and that to love her was to love her daughter. This was 1968 – she was staking out her ground and daring a man with vision and courage meet her on her own terms.

Dad was the man for the job. A young naval officer at the time stationed in Antarctica (he got an island in the Antarctic named after him for his efforts – imagine that!), Dad accepted the challenge and went to battle for her hand and her daughter. 

I mean this literally. My grandmother, Dorothea, was the most badass warrior woman God ever created. She fought on Burma Road in WWII and no half-witted, soft-lad Yankee was going to steal her beloved Granddaughter and spirit her off to the God-forsaken wilds of America. Let’s just say that woman knew how to wield a machete and was not afraid to use it.

In my father’s usual quiet way, once he set his mind to something, he went and did it. He won my mother’s hand with his keen mind and sense of humor then he won over my grandmother with his courage under fire. 

And my sister? He won her heart with his willingness to enter her world and search for Christopher Robin and the Hundred Acre Wood. I think they found it somewhere near Morgan Hill back before there was silicon in our valley and orchards still covered the land. I’m sure wherever it was it smelled divine – like cherry blossoms and old oak trees.

And that was the start of our family – Mom, Dad and Aimee. I came along a few years later, and then, pulling up the rear, my brother.

And here we are, 50 years after her birth. We carry on without our beloved daughter and sister. But the link between us all, the invisible thread that ties us together is still there. This is one of the secrets you learn when you lose someone before their time – if you keep telling their stories, they are still with you. Until the last story is told. 

Here’s to more stories and more memories. Happy Birthday Dad. And to Aimee, wherever you are  💙💙💙