Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunlight, warm me up
Starlight, bring me your best dreams
Open up my world
Lots of dreams coming to me lately. I had one last night wherein I was feeding four small redtail hawks, raising them, petting them along their heads and backs, watching them grow. Many of my dreams involve animals - in fact the first dream I remember was when I was about three when our family lived in Alaska.
In the dream, I was sleeping in my bed in this little room I had off the living room of our tiny house. A polar bear came into the house and started circling around through the rooms, looking for me. I knew the bear was there and I got out of bed and began circling too, in the same direction as the bear.
We began going faster in a circle, the bear running after me; then it got to be a game. I would run faster than the bear and catch up to him. He'd see me behind him and run faster, catch up to me, and then I'd spurt ahead and catch him again, as we ran faster and faster around the circle.
This dream initiated my quest for connection with the animal and spirit world around me, continuing now some 60 years later. Animals bring meaning and significance to our world, whether cats, dogs, birds, no matter whether domestic, wild or somewhere inbetween. I've gained more from an encounter with a squirrel out in the Colorado mountains than from any number of 'workshops' designed to 'help me sort out my life'. And don't even get me started on the importance of curiosity and humor in our lives, brought to me courtesy of a certain inquisitive pine marten. Even watching the actions and interactions of the cat members of our family lead me to a broader understanding of my own interactions with coworkers, family and friends.
Bears amid boulders
each round, each brown, and each slow-
rocks slower than bears

Friday, November 13, 2009

Back home again and loving it

Cat - swift, smart, alert -
supple tail in the air
soft paw on my cheek
How I enjoy being home again! Even though I'm busy at work now, and looking to get much busier when the 2010 Medicare enrollment period begins this coming Sunday, I get to come home straightaway from work and there's my wife, Karen, waiting in the living room. There are our cats, also waiting for me, including my long-time bud Tanka. He'll be 18 years old this coming birthday in March and he's been a constant companion -- helping me make drums when we lived in Durango, rattles when we lived in Scottsdale -- and the simple pleasure of hearing his purr when he curls up into my lap brings a smile to my face every time.
Karen is still liking her job although there are some challenges. She loves getting out each day, driving to appointments, meeting new people in the course of performing her duties -- and quite frequently is able to reconnect with old friends as part of those tasks, which is a bonus.
And then we get together at the end of the day and that, for me, is the value of making this employment switch. I'll post again after the Medicare season has progressed a bit and let you know how I'm faring. I think now I'm going to get a bite of breakfast before I get to the office.
Bagels, hot and fresh
Wait just a New York minute!
Schmear, capers, lox - yum!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Seniors? WHAT seniors?

All spirits listen
when master or beginner
writes one-breath poems
Not much poetry-writing lately, as I'm busy learning my new job. I studied hard during classes, passed the Indiana health insurance licensure exam and have sailed through each required exam of the in-house training sessions. Now I'm "on the floor," on the phones calling out to our current clients and receiving incoming calls from those wishing to investigate other features of our insurance plans.
It's not as dry as it sounds. In fact, it's kinda fun talking with these "seniors," which is our niche market. The company I work for sells Medicare Advantage plans, those Medicare-approved insurance programs which work hand-in-glove with Medicare itself to more fully insure the elderly and other Medicare beneficiaries.
We're licensed, as a company, to do business in 45 of the 48 contiguous states, so calls roll in from all over the country. One minute I'll be talking fast with somebody from New York as though they're on a deadline and three minutes later it'll be a person with a thick Creole accent from Louisiana. One woman offered to cook me crabcakes if I came down to visit her - she lived actually south of New Orleans. Another woman had three cockatiels screeching in the background...actually, she said, it was only one who screeched when she was on the phone and the other two went quiet. "But," she said, "when the Days of Our Lives theme song came on, they all went crazy!"
The Medicare 2010 enrollment season begins 11/15, so I'll be busy from then to the end of March 2010 -- we'll ALL be quite busy -- so my blog entries may be short and infrequent (but I hope sweet, especially the verse). I will try to keep in touch, though, for the benefit of both of my fans .....
Heading off to lunch
robin with a worm in tow
small feet moving fast

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What's new?

Flash and bang at night
rain falls in slim silver strands
I stand, mouth open
It's been raining pretty steadily for the past two or three days. Some streets hold pools of water half a foot deep, hazards for both drivers passing through as well as people walking past. I am much more insulated from the effects of driving in this kind of weather now that I no longer make the long trek down to Jasper. Yay, again!
My new job is going well....very well. After a week in school being exposed to the information I'd need in order to pass the licensing test and become an insurance agent, we were allowed individual study time. A number of us formed study groups to run through multiple variations of quizzes and mock tests. I sat for the actual licensing test a couple days ago and passed with a wide margin.
That out of the way, our time now is divided between getting a jump on the in-house product training and plugging into real-life phone calls to get a feel for the dialogue, Q & A, and screens experienced by agents already on the job. Both segments of this schedule over the next two weeks is going to be necessary and valuable. But in the meantime, I'm also assisting some of the people who didn't pass the licensing test their first time so they'll have a better handle on what they may have answered incorrectly and a better chance to pass it on their 2nd try.
I think I'll like this job, and not only because I feel I'm going to be good and therefore do well at it. It's a good group of people, very friendly and helpful since they've all been newbees. Now, if this rain would only stop so we can have a little more time in Fall. I just have to get out into Nature before we get locked into Winter!
Sunny wooded glade
squirrels chuckling in the trees
flash of a bluebird

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

...and it came to pass -

In the world of haste
busyness calls out your name
come back to the form
A couple weeks since the last entry... Much has changed. I interviewed well, was offered and accepted the job, so now I'm working in Bloomington instead of 75 miles away. Yay! In fact, I'm about a mile and a half from home instead of an hour and a half. I'm happy, my wife is happy, our cats are happy. I think even my new employer is happy with their decision.
Now I'm being paid to be in class, learning the ropes and regulations. Then I sit for a state test which, if I pass (as I am confident I will) moves me into a phone center and earns me a 17% raise immediately. Presto, my income's replaced -- plus, since I'll no longer incur the expense I had of travelling to the other job, to say nothing of much lower wear and tear on both me and my truck, I'm ahead money, time and stress.
I feel I now will have time to more fully participate in the community events and life I've so dramatically missed this past nine months of commuting. I'm considering volunteering for a YMCA board position, can begin to go to the church mens' group again, and get together with friends here in town. And, among other writings, I can resume my blog and my haiku. And continue with the snailmail round-robin of writing from word prompts with the two friends I mentioned earlier. I just sent them my latest installment, in fact, which was along the lines of a Mickey Spillane bete noir episode. Karen's, as frequently is the case, was quite different in feel as well as subject.
She and I are also mulling the idea of starting a similar writing group here in town, perhaps from among our church circle but perhaps a wider venue than that. I think it would be fun. Actually, as it happens, one of the other new employees at my new job also is a poet although I'm not entirely sure he knew what haiku was when I asked him the other day. His forte is free-verse but hey, creativity in writing is at the core of both. Could be a fun contact to explore.
Good to be alive
in all the golden beauty
this late summer day

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Don't count your jobs before they hatch

Pale three-quarter moon
Nimble deer on dew-wet grass
pungent blue wood smoke
insects wake and stretch their wings
I go to work and wish not
Life is what happened while I was making other plans.... I didn't get moved to the next interview stage for the non-profit I wanted, but in response to the other call I set up an interview with the another company. I have to say, I don't have as much heart for it as for the non-profit, but it would get me back home and I still can look around for another job when things open up in the market.
Karen reminds me to compare how satisfied I am now (very un-) in my current set of circumstances vs how bad could this other position actually be, even if it doesn't really excite me? I'd save all the cost of renting a room down here, all the costs of driving back and forth each week, and the 'incidentals' that help ease the stress of separation from my family and community. All that's going for the current job is habit & lack of presenting opportunity.
I already have generated some excitement for this additional prospect. The guy who called to set the interview told me up front that they really liked seeing the experience I can bring to their position, so -- as they say -- this job "is mine to lose" blowing the interview, really not liking the company, etc. I always go into interviews feeling that it's as much about me interviewing the company as it is of me being interviewed. So I'll be packing my list of probing questions to help me figure out what I want to do. I feel better about what this could be and how it would resolve so much of our current stressors.
One bug in my path
mile a day on sixty legs
Go, caterpillar!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Embarassment of Riches -- yes and no...

I think I'm out to about Plan F or G now. My financial advisor ... well, advised me (that's what they do, eh?) to put off for as long as possible my draw from Social Security. She said that even though I'm able and even willing to work part- or full-time now, in my early 60s, that won't always be the case, and how would I feel having to hold down some kind of job in my 70s because I started SS too early? "Hi, welcome to WalMart." Point made.

Activity in several arenas over the past week or so. My son's still up in the air about their plans after their house burned down, so we've been accepting clothing donations to take down to them the next week or two. I got a call last week from a non-profit I'd really be excited to work for and had a job interview yesterday. I think it went pretty well and should hear back from them soon about the final interview - and would be very pleased and excited to work for this group.

While I was digesting that good news, I also got a message from another company to which I'd sent a resume and they're interested in talking to me if I'm still looking. Remember, I've been searching diligently for a replacement job since the first of the year and more casually for months before that and these are the first interviews I've even been invited to. So I'm feelin' good...and will feel better and best when I get the job offer from the non-profit.

I've also become part of a 'writing round-robin' with friends in Mexico and California. We circulate a set of "writing prompts," three random words that must be used in a quickly-written short story, and then we circulate the stories among ourselves. It's a ball. Last week's prompts were basalt, birdhouse and ballerina and one of the women wrote a story that, I swear, every other word started with 'b'. It was literately and literally alive with 'b'ees. This week's are parking lot, marshmallows and envelope. I've got a story going that's very "Guy Noir meets Big Lots." It should be fun.

Hear about the gull
who tried to stand on a fish?
He fell off his perch