Monday, March 11, 2013

Tests, tests, I love tests!

Rarely ever do “bad” things happen in my life. Even when they do, I’m always so sure I can learn a lesson from it I don’t really consider it bad. The label works only in that it’s typically not the most pleasant of experiences. I’ve learned you just have to put in the time and effort to get through it, the more positive the attitude the faster it works itself out. Most of the time, if some issue does come up, it’s sandwiched between lots of good stuff so I hardly notice, and then fast forget. My selective memory trait is a pretty beneficial one :).

Just recently, I had a rather unusual grouping of unfortunate/stressful/painful events crop up. When they first started, it’s wasn’t exactly desirable, but whatever, you deal with what comes. Then they starting compiling, and when one afternoon I had to deal with ALL of them, it became a sort of game. How composed can I stay? How unruffled can I keep my feathers? :). It was so concentrated, I literally started thinking of it as a test....  

And I looove tests ;).  I’ve always loved them, and luckily excelled at them: logic tests, social tests, physical tests, IQ tests, ACT, SAT, midterms, whatever.  I grew up with them, my dad also being a lover of tests. Even as tiny toddlers, he’d say to us girls, “I’m thinking of a word; It rhymes with bed, and starts with R” and all of us would yell RED! Once, the morning after my 21st birthday, still completely inebriated, I staggered into my 8am finance class for a big exam, hardly remembering anything when I woke up later that day.  Score? 100%. That’s pretty dang good right there ;). 

So first, someone hacked into my Comcast account and started ordering a bunch of equipment and services. I caught the confirmation emails, checked with the renters (it was not them) and emailed, online support chatted, and called all within 48 hrs, only to learn the items had already been “delivered”!!  My renters confirmed, not only were there no packages, but they were home all day the day they were supposedly ‘left at door’ by UPS. Ack! Called again, changed my password, removed the orders, but got told I’d have to pay for the equipment!!!  I was in contact w/ UPS and getting driver names and was (still am) sure it was some scam between a comcast/ups employee. More stuff got ordered. Called again, changed password, removed the stuff. Repeat, Repeat! It just kept getting ordered! UGGGH! I probably spent upwards of 8 hours on the phone with them. It was just so crazy it kept happening despite the passwords! Nice security comcast ;).  I was fully prepared to file a police report about it.  My general trend is to get snippy with customer service people. Of all the times I’ve been bitchy in the last couple years I’d say 90% of those have been on the phone (awful and counter-productive, i know!).  On ‘game day’ (two weeks in and call #6 or so), I resolved to keep upbeat and cheery. I took some deep breaths before dialing, and then, guess what?? I got the nicest, most helpful CS girl ever!!! She just took everything off, no fuss, no issues, no worries about the equipment! It’s been over a week since and no new orders!! Phew! 

Then, post huge-roadtrip, (2,545 miles equals some serious gas money), my winter renters back in Miami petitioned me for a discount; they decided to head home to Canada 2 weeks early. This created some real tumultuous internal debate in me. I have a signed contract AND had an early conversation they would pay thru March even if they left sooner... it had been discussed!! These two things alone make it cheeky of them to have asked... BUT, I understand. It’s probably something I would do too... push my luck for that discount;). UGGGGH! Not to mention we had gotten chummy during the time I was still there, so I wasn’t feeling being the hard-ass landlord. I reluctantly compromised, leaving myself $750 bucks short for March!!! Not to mention no renters, (hence no income) in April. Shoooot!  I’m banking on this being a karmic generosity, and will surely get a big break somewhere along the lines. Serendipity and I go way back ;). 

The most emotionally damaging issue has been in dealing with the orphanage coordinator in Africa. If you recall, I just really fell for the kids there (see this blog to revisit the beautiful experience). Despite my own budgetary concerns and a nagging aversion about the underpinnings there, I committed to sending two kids to school...directly to the their young, innocent, beaming, shouting, ecstatic faces:). It was a magical moment.... so gratifying and rewarding... that unfortunately may have been a lesson learned the hard way :(. Making a commitment to children pretty much locks you in (parents all over the world nod in agreement ;), the thought of letting them down or having them think I didn’t actually care about them weighing in heavily when the troubles started, especially with no way to communicate with them directly.  Actually, my real blunder was in trying to override the system. I didn’t have a good sense about the way the place was run, but in the end knew it was better than the kids being on the street. Without that full trust, I tried to bypass the coordinator and spoke to her (peacefully and without hiccup) that I would pay the school directly.  Doh! That was dumb, it’s her that I ultimately have to deal with. I won’t recount it all, but it’s been months of strife. In gist, there was unexplainable switching of the schools and illogically large extra costs added in. My instincts naturally went into question mode....resulting in a loooong series of defensive and offensive, mistrusting, hurtful emails.  With no real options to find out any facts (I tried calling the school, soliciting help from a few people I met there) we got to a point where I just gave in; it seemed legit enough, we were cordial enough, and ultimately I just couldn’t let those babies down.

Since payment and the kids ‘supposedly’ starting classes, almost two months ago already, I’d been asking for a photo of them in their uniforms (the coordinator has a smartphone and posts pics to facebook often enough, so it seemed a cinch request). A zillion excuses and long stretches of no communication ensued, and more upsetting: no updates. Do the kids like school? How are they doing? Is Mwajuma catching up in her english with her special classes??  All I found out was that she doesn’t have a uniform... which was soooo incredibly suspect. Last fall while I was there, Tatu (my singing buddy) got sent home from the same school just for not wearing her tie!!! 

I am not without blame, in creating and intensifying the situation, my skepticism getting the best of me over the course of the irrational dialogue. It’s like I came home and forgot that things don’t work American style anywhere else! Customer always right? Courteous, professional, business etiquette style responses? Forget that! It's real and raw!! Haa. I had wanted to establish some trust first, hung up on the unexpected, unexplained changes,  it being such a huge sum of money more than expected, and wanting to make sure it was being used correctly. I kept trying to just explain that, instead making things worse, female emotions running high. 

Between our language barrier (her english is decent, even good, but not great) and certainly some cultural differences, our communication was sucking hardcore. Every time I asked even an uncomplicated question, she was taking it as a personal attack on her integrity. She even threw the racist card at me. It was just brutal. My heart was hurting over what to do.  In the end, all I want is to help these kids. I finally accepted, it was time for a peace offering. There was no way I could continue paying for SIX more years (until they graduate) with this kind of communication, but I couldn’t see just pulling out either. I needed to be the one to make a leap of faith. I sent a very calm, composed, compassionate email, offering to deposit the funds (plus some for her time and effort) in their account rather than to the school, in exchange for me getting to feel like I’m at least a little bit involved in their lives. A few updates and pictures is all. I’m happy to report a wonderful reply from her, and this lovely, albeit fuzzy, picture! Here’s Mwajuma and Rogati, looking sharp in their uniforms! They even made a sign!!! Awwww :)

Thank you to my amazing friends that donated towards the cause. With the unanticipated extra fees and all the drama, there was a time I thought I would have to cut my losses and withdraw.  But with that extra help, seeing this picture, and the status of our current emails, I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt that all is just as it should be. I’m trusting because I have to, because I did spend almost 3 weeks with her and she’s not a bad person, because it feels better in my heart and soul to just have some faith without facts. She says she’ll keep me updated and will send receipts. I’m feeling already like it’s going to be as rewarding as it originally felt to be. Yay :) who wants to buy a fundraiser hat? I’ve got 40 left! :) 

On a sillier note, I lost a toenail after my 42 mile Skyline-to-the-Sea hike! I exclamation that because I feel like that makes me a real hiker ;).  Unfortunately, it’s ugly as sin!  Random fact about me: I always have my toenails painted.  Even if it’s chipped and terrible looking, it’s there. My sister’s gave me a complex about my long toes (which I now appreciate!) as a kid, and I’ve got big feet anyways, so I suppose this is my attempt to keep them girly.  9 toenails is not working so well!  Grow nail grow!!

The issue that is most unwelcome (it’s lesson pretty well concealed), is my horrid Poison oak rash! It’s allllll over me!  Both forearms, the backs of both knees, completely covering my stomach, a little on my face and even some on my ear lobe!! That one is brutal when it gets-a-itchin’....if I could I’d likely Mike-Tyson it off;).   I tap on it, I blow on it, I press it against cold, against hot. I cover myself in mud, I shower with fancy soap, I take some homeopathic pills... I still itch like crazy! Mind over matter, mind over matter, mind over matter...until i give in, falling victim to that momentary ferociousness, the barbaric, violent scratching of skin!!  It feels so orgasmic in that moment... so contradictory to the self-sabotaging ramifications of doing it!  Extra itch, nasty sores, and of course prolonging and spreading the whole issue!! I feel like I’m detoxing or something!! My 3 hour off-trail hike thru the bushes along the lakeshore was totally worth it though :) As of today, it’s looking quite better, feeling a little better. Phew!!!! I think I’m in the home stretch:).

Then there is Naomi. Ahhh Naomi, she’s sooo sweet and endearing...yet so easily flustered, and her passive aggressiveness soooo exasperating! Jamie was right... ‘feisty’ is the PERFECT word to describe her! ha!  It’s been very difficult for me, watching and seeing major insecurity behind sooooo many of her fits and monologues. I’ve battled wanting to do something, say something, to ‘help’ her.  I want her be happier, more confident, less affected by such minor things. What an asshole I was! She doesn’t need ‘saving’, she needs compassion. Compassion is wholly outside of judgement. It is a simple acceptance, loving and finding value in every person, at whatever stage of life they are in. She has been the greatest thing for me, playing a real pivotal role in my own growth. It’s indisputable, that I am in the greatest, most joyful part of my life thus far. Nothing can keep me down. She, like many though, is going through a very difficult time. Among other things, just trying to accept the physical and mental limitations that are coming with her age. It’s been an immeasurably wonderful reminder and lesson for me, especially right now, on the verge on starting a new company. I often had lived by the hypothesis that everybody would of course always, and right now, want to be happier, more confident, more positive, have the ability to brush things off easier. The thing is, all of our lives are exactly where they need to be, as we’ve made them.  Her soul, everyone’s, is taking care of itself in precisely the way it needs to for her at this moment. She is learning exactly the lessons she needs to learn and if she wants a change, she’ll bring it into her own life. Our souls are infinitely powerful and good like that ;)

She has been a blackberry bush for me, a prickly painful plant... but in the end a magnificent fruit produced.  My job is simply to always strive to be my OWN highest self. She compliments me daily, tells me how much she’ll miss me and what she loves about me and why it’s so nice to be around me.  THAT was my role. To see her pain thru her outbursts. To see the positive she already has instead of zeroing in on the areas she could improve. I feel totally grateful to her, this place.  My purpose is clear. If someone asks me for advice, for help, ‘how-do-i-do-it’, I’ll respond in thoughtful, sensitive, regard. Otherwise, I am simply living in the highest realm of myself I can live, sending out love and light, and if that does a deed, I have done right by the world ;)

Amen to that!!! This was an AWESOME reminder, especially for my new business!!!! 

Throughout this little life test, this game of, ‘Lets see how many little issues we can throw at Becky and test her happiness factor’, I managed to keep a pretty darn cool composure... so, I win! I’d say passing with a nice A- :)  

 And!!!!  Because I pass, I do believe I’m getting a reward!!!! I’ve since had possibly the most motivated and excitingly clear and vision-full week of my life! So much clarity and plain-as-day signs, my inner voice is speaking to me with a megaphone! I think it’s been a gift!!! A gold star on my exam form perhaps!?!?! Maybe it was even a graduation to my next grade of life!!! I do feel higher/smarter/more evolved/clearer/wiser... it’s euphoric!

.... that blog to come :) 


  1. Becks-
    Want to help you send your kids to school. Do you have an account somewhere where I can make a deposit? I'm sure I'm not alone in this one.
    Kelley Hancock

  2. Hi Kelley!!! Awww you are so good! I remember your comment on the first blog!!! Thank you thank you!!!
    I've tried to research small donation type stuff, it's all a bit complicated. The easiest thing seems to be just to say I have a account, which is free to send money to, at You could make a memo within it about SWIWSCO Orphanage!

    It's not very official, with no tax deduction or stuff of the sort, so if you (or someone) knows a better way I'd be all ears!!! Thank you! xoxo

  3. Check out the "charity" page I made for lots of info about the sponsorship!!!


  4. Hey! I was just reading your blog and it sounded all to familiar. I was at SWIWSCO in July last year and decided to sponsor one of the kids there. While i was there almost all of the kids got sponsors. Everyone chose to deal with how they were going to pay for the school in different ways. Some people went directly to the school and some went through the directors of the orphanage. I have gone through the directors and haven't had too many problems just a few extra "fees" but it worked out to be $40. Mwajuma and Rogati are both in school though and doing well :-) I will be back there in November so will send you a better update and photos!! They are the most amazing kids!