Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Be Kind to Your Tax Preparer

     I'm beginning my fourth consecutive year of working as a tax preparer. While things start out slowly in mid-January, by February, things get crazy and keep getting crazier till the filing deadline (not necessarily April 15). I'm a "numbers nerd," I learn a lot, I enjoy the folks I work with, and I love the job. The work matches my skills nicely. Plus this job supports my travel habit during the other nine months of the year.
     In general, I would offer that the folks who write and pass tax legislation don't have a clue what they are actually doing. All political parties are equally clueless. When a tax preparer hears the word "simplify," we know automatically that the tax code and systems to support it will become infinitely more complicated. The whole "file on a postcard" thing is a silly fantasy.
     The CPA I work for attends a weekly tax luncheon, wherein tax accountants and attorneys discuss the latest changes. There is an extraordinary amount of detail relative to the tax bill that Trump was able to get passed that is still not defined enough to be programmed properly in the tax software. Many questions remain. If these pros don't know what's going on, there's little hope for the rest of us. Then there are the changes which are made retroactive, which adds on a whole 'nother layer of complication, because where records should have been kept, they probably were not.
     Then there is the government shutdown to contend with. Effects of that are still becoming known. We don't know if the filing deadline will be extended. Deadlines for forms being mailed have been relaxed somewhat, pushing even more work toward the already busy end-of-season.
     So be kind to your tax person when he says, "I don't know the answer to that right now." Or when she asks for more details. Or when he says that the software isn't complete enough yet to actually file the return with the IRS. Or when the refund you were expecting turns into an amount owed. You are working with folks who are in a nearly constant state of trying to hit a moving target. Please be kind. We truly are doing our best in each moment.
     Digging the numbers,

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Much-Bigger Perspective

     I've been watching a series on Netflix called "Nature's Weirdest Events." One was an ice tsunami that came ashore and destroyed a bunch of homes. There are several instances of bug and bird invasions. There is a frog that is metabolically built to freeze solid in the winter and come back to life with the spring thaw. It's very interesting stuff. While it would not be my first thing to study, there is at least one fire ant expert out there, and it was fascinating to learn how those tiny vicious creatures operate. There's a tiny parasitic moth that preys on the fire ants, a glimmer of hope in controlling their invasion.
     I am also very fond of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (click here). These are fabulous photos of earthlings looking skyward, or into deep space, or from space back at our magnificent planet. I love seeing our planet from space because 1) there are no border lines, 2) I know I have no concept of how big Earth is, 3) something bigger than me did an outstanding job of making this extremely unusual world that supports such a huge variety of life. If you look at photos of Mars and Earth, the difference is mind-boggling. How did this amazing, water-based, rich-with-life planet happen?!?!
     Two important life reminders come to me through these sources. The first is that our planet is a living, intelligent system that is perfectly capable of taking care of itself. While I believe we should take excellent care of our earthly home, I don't buy into all the fuss about global warming and such. The planet will simply have cycles of change, and one human lifetime is a minuscule speck of time in its long-term existence. Certainly human life and property may be damaged along the way, but Earth will do what it needs to do to sustain life, or if necessary, wipe it out and start over. That's happened in the past.
     The other life reminder is "there's nothing to worry about." The Intelligence that has created our planet and the mind-boggling variety of life on it, much still undiscovered, is way bigger and smarter than me. If It can do such a great job with our planet, then I can rest assured that I don't really have to worry about much. Live well, feel good, do good, have fun, love. I believe in the goodness of all things, and the magnificence of planet Earth is a pretty fine indicator that we are eternally loved and cared for. What a glorious playground!
     I encourage you to find some ways to reach beyond your day-to-day, limited perspective and get a bigger view of the glorious world we live on. Learn. Travel. Hang out in nature. Hug a tree. 😊😊😊
     Appreciating life,

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Grateful Goodbye to 2018

What an interesting year 2018 was, with many out-of-the-ordinary happenings for me and our family.

WORK I completed my third season doing tax preparation. I was really active with MELT Method teaching, including classes, workshops and private lessons.

HEALTH Surgery was a biggie for the year. Dennis had shoulder surgery in June, and successfully completed six months of physical therapy. After x-rays showing arthritis in my left hip, I arranged for and got myself psyched for hip replacement, but that never happened due to a rather bizarre set of happenings. I'm in wait-and-see mode for now, not ready to reschedule a hip surgery. My pre-surgery evaluation, however, was comforting, as all my numbers were in the normal/healthy ranges.

TRAVEL Our older son, Derek, and his partner, Caila, spent most of the year working and playing in Australia and New Zealand. What a challenge having them so far away, and a joy that they were able to experience that adventure. I enjoyed trips:

  • Chicago and Ohio (Cubs game, friends and family visits)
  • Eastern Canada, exploring Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara
  • East Coast baseball tour thru Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, Cooperstown, Boston
  • Timber Creek Retreat
  • Dallas for an Abraham-Hicks workshop
  • Fort Collins, in September to visit Eliot, and December, for Christmas

DOG We kept Derek's Golden Retriever, Dusty, while he was in Australia. While I was not initially excited to have our first dog ever in our home of 33 years, we became very attached to this great critter. We got him all caught up on vet care, including neutering. I went to a six-week obedience class with him, which achieved the primary goal of him learning to walk comfortably on-leash. We returned Dusty to Derek at our Christmas visit. Coming home after Christmas to no dog at home was heart-breaking.

FAMILY We were blessed with sons' visiting Wichita when Eliot and Aliza arrived for a Memorial Day weekend (friends' wedding) and Derek and Caila passed through after returning from New Zealand. Eliot is now the proud owner of the newest car in the family, a 2016 Honda Civic, his first car purchase.

I received my first Social Security payments, woohoo!
I played lots more golf than in the past few years.
We had a major tree-trimming job done around our home and attempted lawn restoration.
My birthday-gift-to-me was registering for the California Baseball Tour in August 2019.
I added five MLB stadiums to my bucket list: Baltimore, Mets, Yankees, Fenway, Toronto.
I set a new personal annual lap-swim record of 136 miles.
I had a CUBS World Series ring on my hand.

All-in-all, a very good year, despite all the unusual happenings. I feel so grateful and blessed!
     Looking forward to a great 2019!

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Mixed Bag That Is Life

     We just completed a wonderful Christmas celebration with our sons in Colorado. We stayed in the comfy, newly-settled home of older son Derek and partner Caila. Younger son Eliot joined us, along with "third son" and family friend, Ryan. Assorted other friends of the kids joined us over the course of the day. The gift exchange was great fun. Dennis and Derek made us delicious feasts to celebrate being together. We finished off the day with loads of laughter playing the "Cards Against Humanity" game.
     For 11 months this past year, Dennis and I dog-sat our son's dog, Dusty, while he was in Australia. While I was not initially thrilled about the idea, I grew VERY attached to this wonderful doggie. We agreed to return him to Derek at our Christmas visit. The drive to Fort Collins with Dusty went very well. He had the back seat to himself and slept most of the way. He settled in nicely to his new home, and was yet another joy of our super Christmas holiday together.
     Leaving on the day after Christmas is always a bummer for me. Saying goodbye to the kids and facing the seemingly-endless nine-hour drive home is a drag. This year we had the added bummer of leaving "our" doggie there. Not having the dog in the car made for a simpler ride home, and we really are happy that Derek and his dog are reunited. The big blow came, however, when we opened the door to our house and no tail-wagging, smiling dog came racing to greet us. Tears have been flowing freely, because everywhere I look, there's some evidence of a missing pup. I texted Derek, saying "I'm considering dognapping."
     The past few days have been quite the emotional roller-coaster ride. I will get over my grief regarding Dusty, I know. I keep reminding myself that even though it feels like we lost a pet, he didn't die, we will see him again, and he is with his rightful owner who is ecstatic to have him back. So I will cry as much as I feel like, and eventually I will get motivated to clean the house of the "dog hair everywhere."
     While the lows of life are not as much fun as the highs, I am grateful that I can fully feel both and the contrast between them.
     Life is good!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Little Things That Make Me Smile

     This fine work of snowman art was painted by yours truly, and now hangs by our fireplace. It's not destined for an art museum, but I like it. I put it as the background photo on my Chromebook, and each time I open the laptop, the snowman makes me smile. 

     This led me to thinking about other little things that make me smile. Here's a partial list:

  • 75-pound Dusty dog lying asleep in my lap 
  • Lilies
  • Snow on evergreens
  • Just the thought of Opening Day of baseball season
  • A completed sewing or crocheting project
  • The "me-ness" of my woman cave
  • Catching a palindrome of numbers on my car's odometer
  • Christmas lights
  • The morning cup of coffee
  • Folded and put-away laundry
  • Hand-written, snail-mailed cards and letters

     That's good for starters. What items are on your list? Let's spread our smiles around!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Surgery That Didn't Happen

     The best-laid plans...
     I did not have hip replacement surgery. I asked one-too-many questions via email, the offender question being one inquiring if there was any alternative to a (now I know "required") post-surgery drug. Eight days before the scheduled surgery, a woman from the doctor's staff (not the doctor himself, mind you) called to tell me that the doctor cancelled the surgery because "he is afraid you won't follow his orders." And no, I could not speak to the doctor. To tell you how much they wanted rid of me, I had my refund check from the practice two days later in the mail.
     I was stunned and upset, as I had been looking forward to the end of a nearly constant ache. Then I realized that it would not be in my best interests to go into surgery with any sort of contentious relationship with the surgeon. So I spent the day in a combination of tears and anger. On the bright side, the angry energy enabled me to get a lot of house cleaning done. I was also blessed with an understanding MELT/yoga class that encouraged me to practice along with them (rather than just demonstrate), and the practices calmed me down and restored much peace to my spirit.
     The next day, I decided upon waking that I was not going to let this sudden change of plans ruin another day. Peace reigns in my soul relative to all this. Some follow-up thoughts and actions include:

  • I bless the doctor to do his very best for those he does operate on.
  • It's comical that he found me such a risk, as I may have been one of the healthiest people for whom he ever did hip replacement.
  • I feel compassion for the poor woman who had to call me on the doctor's behalf. What a crap job!
  • I've made an appointment with another surgeon.
  • For the most part, my hip has been feeling better since the cancellation. 
  • I know there's a bigger picture here, everything happens for a reason, and I'm excited to see how all this unfolds. 

     Curiously enjoying the adventure of life,

Monday, November 12, 2018

Our Reasons for Being Here

     I had an extraordinarily pleasant and profound learning experience this past Saturday in a four-hour workshop in Dallas presented by Esther Hicks channeling Abraham. (If unfamiliar with this, google "Abraham-Hicks.") Any experience listening to or reading Abraham materials leaves me feeling so loved and appreciative of my life and circumstances. Actually being in Esther's presence as she is channeling, however, is love on super-steroids.
     There were many wonderful insights that I carried away with me, but my favorite was Abraham's description of our reasons for being here. Yes, we chose to come into physical form for a triangle of reasons. The three sides of the triangle are EXPANSION, FREEDOM and JOY.
     Expansion is inevitable. It is happening all over the Universe. It is an eternal force that cannot be stopped. We earthlings are on the leading edge of creation, responsible (whether we like it or not) for the lives we create for ourselves. Everyone is creative, and our creation tool is our thoughts.
     Freedom is the foundation of life on Planet Earth. Everyone has free will, the ability to choose. There is always a choice, whether we like it or not, whether we can discern it or not. Like expansion, freedom is a given relative to Earth life, not something we have to make happen.
     So lastly, our big choice is whether or not to live a life of JOY. Abraham encourages us to take the path of least resistance, to do what makes us feel good, as evidenced by our emotions, which are our guidance system. Abraham's biggest challenge seems to be to convince us humans that we are supposed to feel good. When we feel good, our vibration is high, which attracts high-vibration good to us. So-called "negative" emotions are really only indicators that we are lowering our vibration and being resistant to the good that is always coming our way.
      One of my favorite Abraham quotes is "Our prayer for you is that you love yourself more today than yesterday, and more tomorrow than today." What a fine goal, to choose joy in this way. This is not selfish or conceited. Just think, if everyone on the planet loves themselves and feels good, would we have violence, discord, hatred, revenge, blame, etc, etc, etc? No. So let's do our part to uplift the world!
      Choosing JOY,