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I’m so sorry I’ve been out of touch for so long. It’s been a wild couple of months. The last thing I told you was about my trip to Point Pleasant Beach with my sister Barbara.

When Sandy came up the New Jersey coast almost two weeks ago, a lot of that beach, that boardwalk, those cute little pastel-colored houses by the shore that people live in (some for the summer, but a lot throughout the year) were washed away, flooded, destroyed.

My family is safe. The most that any of us lost was phone or internet for hours or days. None of us lost power. None of us flooded. We are safe, and well, and warm, and thankful for all of that.

In between the time I last blogged and today, I got the MOST PERFECT JOB in the world. To say that I am grateful, and thankful, and blessed, and happy about that doesn’t quite express the depth and breadth of how I feel. I’m the new office manager for the Flushing YMCA YouthBuild program. For the first time in my life, I have the chance to use my skills in a setting that truly aligns with my personal values. I walk to work every day. On days when I take a break, I swim on my break, one floor down from my office. I am in heaven.

If you’ve been following my blog for awhile, or if you know me in real life, you know that I’d been looking for a full-time job for about a year. I’d gotten close several times, but somehow didn’t get the jobs I thought I was perfect for, jobs for which I was well-qualified, and where the interviews went really well. In June, I got the first serious freelance assignment I’ve had in a long-time; a wall calendar/desk calendar project for a conventional publisher (i.e., not print-on-demand). My work will once again be sold in stores next year!

So, I thought, the message from God was this:

Claud, forget fulltime, do your freelance gig, take the time to swim and get your body working in good order. I’ll take care of the rest.

Wisely, I decided not to argue with the Supreme Being, and said to myself, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

All summer, I worked on my calendar project, swam laps three or four days a week, went to the beach with Barbara at the end of the summer, and researched health insurance plans for freelancers, since my COBRA would expire at the end of October.

The last week of August, I knew the schedule for the Y pool would be changing, so I went on the website to check it out. While I was there, I clicked on the careers tab, on impulse. I found the posting for the job I would win within the month. I emailed my resume at 11:30 on a Saturday night, and Monday morning (while I was at the pool) the man who is now my boss called me to come in and interview. Three interviews and four weeks later, he hired me for this wonderful, amazing job that every other thing in my life has prepared me to do.

Grateful, thankful, blessed, happy doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel.

I’m almost finished with the calendar job (the wall is done, I’m finishing up the desk). I’m taking Intermediate Swim with Eddie Langer again on Sunday mornings. I swim once or twice a week on my lunch breaks; once I finish the calendar, I can get back to swimming four times a week.

If I hadn’t joined the Y back in January, I would not now have my new job. If I hadn’t been looking for the new pool schedule, I’d never have seen the job posting almost as soon as it went up. There is more than luck and coincidence at work here; what there is, is grace, the grace that follows the acceptance of the will of God when one’s own works have proven fruitless. It’s a lesson I have to relearn periodically, but every time I relearn it, I absorb it a little more deeply.

This year, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day. I have so very much to be thankful for; work and love, the safety of my family and friends, my new friends and students at my new job, the opportunity to use my talents and skills for a higher purpose. Once I let go of my own idea of what I thought God wanted me to do, my journey was made clear to me, and I took it. It was a roundabout route, and I had many doubts and fears. I had some very dark times, but I held fast, even though I didn’t know what would happen next. I had to step out of the boat, and take the Hand that was extended to me, and trust that I would not fall and drown.
And I didn’t.

So, when my sibs asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, I told them I had everything I want and need. Instead, I asked them to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

If you and yours are safe and well, and you want to celebrate Thanksgiving (and my birthday) by helping those who have lost so much, here are a few ideas:

The YMCA of Greater New York is helping replace schoolbooks, supplies, clothing, and more for schoolkids from specific NYC schools who lost everything in the storm.

The Occupy Wall Street folks are doing amazing work in the most devastated areas of Queens.
Check out the Occupy Sandy bridal registry, which is a brilliant idea.

A 19 year old Rutgers student named Zoe and her three siblings lost their parents in the storm. She will be raising her siblings herself. She wants to be able to keep the house they’ve been growing up in. They’ve gotten a lot of help so far, which is amazing; at the bottom of Zoe’s story, she shares a link to other NJ families’ stories, if you want to donate to someone who hasn’t been as fortunate as she has, in terms of donations.

Thanks for listening–Now that we’re all caught up, how did you and yours fare in the storm? If you have any links to local charities who are helping people in your neighborhood, post them here, and please share my links with your friends.
Thanksgiving may be two weeks away, but it’s never too early to be thankful.

Illuminations~ November 2014 page

Illuminations~ November 2014 page

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